The largest group of nutritionists captured by food, pharmaceutical and agribusiness companies

Unsplash The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accepted millions of dollars from food, drug and agricultural companies, offered favors in return through its policies and invested in the stocks of ultra-processed food companies, according to a published study in Public Health Nutrition. the Academy accepted more than $15 million from corporate and organizational contributors in 2011 and 2013-2017, according to its draft IRS Forms 990. Major contributors to the Academy in 2011 and 2013-2017 were: the National Dairy Council, Conagra, Abbott Laboratories, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Hershey, General Mills and more.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accepted millions of dollars from food, drug and agricultural companies, had policies to offer favors in return and invested in the stock of ultra-processed food companies, according to a study published today in Public Health Nutrition.

The Academy says it is “the world’s largest organization of nutrition and dietetics professionals” representing “more than 112,000 accredited professionals,” including registered dietitian nutritionists and other food and nutrition professionals.

The study was produced by public health scholars and US Right to Know, a nonprofit public health research group that obtained tens of thousands of pages of internal Academy documents through records requests state publics.

The study describes a “symbiotic relationship” between the Academy and corporations, and found that the Academy acts as a “pro-industry voice” with policy positions that sometimes clash with its mission to improve health at the national level. worldwide

“The documents reveal a depressing chapter of corruption at this influential nutrition group,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of US Right to Know and one of the study’s co-authors. “If we’re going to be healthier, live longer, and reduce our staggering rates of obesity and diabetes, we need to clean up the corruption in health groups like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”

The study reveals that the Academy accepted more than $15 million from corporate and organizational contributors in 2011 and 2013-2017, according to its draft IRS 990 forms.

The Academy’s top contributors in 2011 and 2013-2017 were: National Dairy Council $1,496,912; Conagra Inc. $1,414,058; Abbott Nutrition $1,246,389; Abbott Laboratories $824,110; AND Foundation 801,261; PepsiCo Inc. $486,335; Coca-Cola Co. $477,577; Hershey Co. $368,032; General Mills Inc. $309,733; Health Research and Quality Agency $296,495; Aramark Co. $293,051; Unilever Best Foods $276,791; Kellogg USA $273,272.

Here is the Academy’s draft IRS 990 (with donor data) for 6/11-5/12, 6/13-5/14, 6/14-5/15, 6/15 -5/16 and 6/16-5/17, as well as for its foundation for the days 6/12-5/13 and 6/13-5/14.

The documents show that the Academy and its foundation invested funds in ultra-processed food companies. The Academy’s investment portfolio as of January 2015 included $244,036 in stakes in Nestlé SA and $139,545 in PepsiCo. The Academy Foundation’s investment portfolio as of June 2013 included $209,472 in stakes in Nestlé SA and $125,682 in PepsiCo.

“Nutrition groups should not be buying ultra-processed food stocks. They are an overwhelming conflict of interest,” Ruskin said. “Public health groups should not invest in companies that make products that harm our health or directly conflict with their mission.”

It appears that the Academy allowed the counter purchase of “rights and profits” by corporate sponsors. Internal communications show that the Academy “distinguishes its ‘sponsors’ from its ‘supporters’. Corporate sponsors “pay a fee and in return the Academy provides a right or benefit”… Corporate “supporters” provide “a charitable contribution without any (explicit) expectation of commercial return”.

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