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!
(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>
(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>.
(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/>.
(11) American Dietetic Association, Letter to Senator Grassley, <http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/87299-american-dietetic-association>. 2009.
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