ADA Says Sugar, and Artificial Colors are Safe for Children!

Registered dietitians are now being given formal education by the Coca-Cola Company on how safe its ingredients are.(1)

The credentialing arm of the American Dietetic Association, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), has approved a program created by the the Coca-Cola Company Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. This covers what it calls “urban myths” about the safety of food ingredients. Participating in this program will earn registered dietitians Continuing Professional Education unit credits.(2)

“Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide,” tells dietitians that fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners have been “carefully examined for their effects on children’s health, growth, and development.” The presenter, Dr. Ronald Kleinman, “explores prevalent misconceptions about these food ingredients” and suggests ways the dietitian can help quell unnecessary “concern among parents about their children’s health.”(3)

At first glance, Dr. Kleinman should know what he is talking about. He is physician-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, chief of the Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Nutrition Unit, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Couldn’t sound better, could it? But he has also received a great deal of money from industry sources—like artificial infant formula manufacturers Mead Johnson and Nestle Ltd. His study on optimal duration of breastfeeding was funded by Gerber Products.(4) He also served as a paid expert witness for Gerber when they were sued for deceptive advertising. And he contributed to a brochure intended for children entitled “Variety’s Mountain” produced by the Sugar Association.(5)

Now he’s being sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and telling dietitians that the ingredients in Coke which everyone is alarmed about are safe. The dietitians, in turn, will be telling parents that their fears are unfounded, and Coke can sell more Coke to kids.(6)

Program materials include gems like “[a] majority of studies so far have not found a link between sugar and behavior in children generally or children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” This is certainly news to us, since we have seen many studies that say the opposite. Apparently the dietitians are to teach us that any connection between artificial colors and neurotoxicity, or fears of the dangers of fluoride, are imaginary and come from hysterical (or at least unduly concerned) parents.(7)

But of course, sugar and artificial sweeteners are anything but safe.(8)  And commonly used food dyes pose risks which include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. Even the Center for Science in the Public Interest, agrees with this. And the British government and European Union have taken actions that are virtually ending the use of dyes throughout Europe.

The sad fact is, the ADA is beholden to Junk Food and Big Pharma interests, which we feel greatly tarnishes the organization’s credibility.(9)  The organization lists among its corporate sponsors soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi, industrial food monolith Aramark, cereal manufacturers General Mills and Kellogg’s, candy makers Hershey and Mars, and Unilever, the multinational corporation that owns many of the world’s consumer products brands in foods and beverages.(10)  It also receives funding from Abbott Nutrition, a division of pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories (which makes Meridia, the weight-loss drug which was withdrawn because it was both dangerous and ineffective).(11)

For an organization “committed to improving the nation’s health,” one would not expect them to be in the pocket of junk food manufacturers and drug makers.(12) How can they tell people to “Eat Right,” as their campaign puts it, when they are promoting their sponsors’ interests—the very “food” items responsible for the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in this nation?

It’s time to change this sorry state of affairs!

If you are a Registered Dietitian, certified nutritionist, student, or ADA member, take action here: Take Action!

Everyone else, take action here: Take Action!

(1) The Coca-Cola Beverage Institute For Health & Wellness, “Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide,” cached at:  < http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/webinar-childrensdietary-cpe.htm>
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Center for Science in the Public Interest,  “Integrity In Science database,” search results for Ronald Kleinman, M.D.  <http://www.cspinet.org/cgi-bin/integrity.cgi>.
(5) Ibid.
(6) The Coca-Cola Beverage Institute For Health & Wellness, “Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide,” cached at:  < http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/webinar-childrensdietary-cpe.htm>.
(7) The Coca-Cola Beverage Institute For Health & Wellness, “Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide,” presentation cached at <http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/adacokeslides.pdf>.
(8) Dr. Lustig, Presentation at the Univ. of California, San Francisco,  “Sugar the Bitter Truth,” <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM>.
(9) American Dietetic Association,  list of corporate sponsors,  <http://www.anh-usa.org/playing-monopoly-with-our-health/>.
(10) Ibid.
(11) American Dietetic Association, Letter to Senator Grassley,  <http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/87299-american-dietetic-association>. 2009.
(12) Ibid.

7 Responses to “ADA Says Sugar, and Artificial Colors are Safe for Children!”

  1. Susan Parker Leigh, MEd, MS, CCN says:

    As a member of ADA I applaud your coming name change but believe that some old patterns of thinking need to be changed as well. My practice involves many clients with food sensitivities so I’m well aware of the reactions to food colors and preservatives in addition to various foods. I have heard horror stories of patients in the hospital with a diagnosis of Celiac being served biscuits or toast along with other breaded products. The elimination of problematic foods is a very ignored subject in college classes in my experience. I’m a 2004 graduate with a Masters degree. Treating the individual should be the goal rather than going by preset guidelines. Manufactured foods are in general inferior to fresh whole foods.

  2. sheila Liberman says:

    Great informaiton. Where do you sign the petition. Sheila

  3. admin says:

    Look to the right of the ReallyEatRight.org homepage.

  4. David says:

    As soon as I read the title of your article, I asked myself, “Do you have the references that definitively say that artificial colors and sweeteners are bad?”. In saying that, what do you have that supports that research? I read a lot of company and organization bashing and not a lot of solid evidence. None as a matter of fact. Please do not get me wrong, I am not a junk food advocate for the general public, and I will not preach what I do not practice. Keep in mind, companies like Abbott, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo etc. produce much more than soda and weight loss drugs. Abbot for example produces many crucial nutrition support formulas that are necessary in medical nutritional therapy. Big Pharma? Yeah, they produce drugs for sick people, some could have been prevented, some not as lucky. PepsiCo should not be assumed as just the cola. They have ownership rights to Gatorade and Quaker among other less desirable beverage choices including tropicana juices.
    I agree with everyone’s continuing ‘fresh whole foods’ are the best. I really am in full support of it. The kicker though, money. Who is going to pay for it? Right now congress will not let President Obama label french fries and tomato paste (pizza) as non-vegetables. You want to bash someone, look to the top and get your facts straight.

  5. admin says:

    David: I’ll direct you to the Center for Science In the Public Interest website on food additives. Additives are categorized there in risk categories along with information on research as to why. http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm. To specifically address your question; “Do you have the references that definitively say that artificial colors and sweeteners are bad?” Can you locate a recent study (not funded by industry) that definitively finds these chemicals consumed in total are safe for children? I’ll phrase this another way; has anyone ever been harmed by NOT consuming Yellow #5, BHA or BPA? No. Have there been tens of thousands physician documented cases and a growing body of scientific literature that shows the removal of chemical ingredients and added sugar from the diet improves the health of children? Yes.

  6. greetings, Your ADA Says Sugar, and Artificial Colors are Safe for Children! Really Eat Right title is pleasant, I really appreciate your material mate

  7. panny says:

    Here’s what I find amazing… aside from the obvious case that when people are given incentives and paid to promote that sugar, artificial ingredients, etc. are not bad for you, it can no longer be deemed science as they don’t start with an open mind; Then what do these people/companies attribute the incredible rise of obesity, diabetes, etc. to? If they say that people are just consuming too many calories and not exercising enough, they really need to look at the science that clearly show’s that is simply just not the case. (In fact the science has recently been accepted as part of the syllabus for the AND in Harvard University – see Jonathan Bailer’s The Smarter Science of Slim).

    It would be great to see links to Dr. Robert Lustig’s video on ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth’ on your site and also references to Gary Taubes.


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