As is customary with these sorts of industry efforts, all is not what it seems. Certainly, public health took a backseat to corporate damage control.
And, yet again, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is mired in controversy for passing off food industry marketing as education; quite unfortunate for the tens of thousands of dietitians who embrace public health but see their credential denigrated by their organization’s actions.
- “On its website, Kellogg touted a distinguished-sounding “Breakfast Council” of “independent experts” who helped guide its nutritional efforts. Nowhere did it say this: The maker of Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes paid the experts and fed them talking points, according to a copy of a contract and emails obtained by The Associated Press.”
- “For Kellogg, the breakfast council — in existence between 2011 and this year — deftly blurred the lines between cereal promotion and impartial nutrition guidance. The company used the council to teach a continuing education class for dietitians, publish an academic paper on breakfast, and try to influence the government’s dietary guidelines.”
- “[Kellogg] told the AP it had been reviewing its nutrition work, and decided not to continue the council. The breakfast council page is no longer online.”
- “The breakfast council was also a way to patrol for naysayers. After an advocacy group issued a report criticizing sugary cereals, Sarah Woodside, a Kellogg employee, sent the council an email explaining why it was unfair and asked them to alert her if they noticed any discussions about it.”
- “Disclosures by the council could be confusing. When two of the experts taught a class for dietitians on the “science behind breakfast,” an introduction said they were members of Kellogg’s Breakfast Council, then said they had no conflicts of interest. It said Kellogg funded the class, but had no input into its content.”
- “Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, said health experts usually have good intentions when working with companies, and may not realize they’re being used for their credibility.”
- “One of the breakfast council’s most notable achievements was publishing a paper defining a “quality breakfast” in a nutrition journal. Kellogg touted the paper in its newsletter as being written by “our independent nutrition experts.” Dietitians could earn continuing education credits from the publisher for taking a quiz about the paper.”
- “Kellogg didn’t describe its own role in overseeing editing and providing feedback, such as asking for the removal of a line saying a recommendation that added sugar be limited to 25 percent of calories might be “too high.”