We have a significant obesity problem in the U.S. Over 40% of Americans today over the age of 20 are obese, up from 30% just a couple of decades ago. This is a huge deal because obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers are among the causes of preventable premature death.
In 2019, the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $173 billion. Our country is hurting on so many levels simply because, as a society, we are struggling with our health and nutrition.
Luckily, we have trained professionals in this country devoted to helping people lose weight and optimize their health through tried and true dieting practices that are founded on sound science. Registered dietitians, nutritionists, and other food and nutrition professionals make up the sector responsible for helping us turn our obesity problem around. Surely, these are the people we can count on to get out of this whole mess.
Or maybe the nutrition professionals sector is just as broken and corrupt as every other part of our health and food systems?
Over 100,000 credentialed nutrition practitioners are represented by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). The AND claims to be the world’s largest organization of nutrition and dietetics practitioners. If we are going to win the fight against Big Food, Big Ag, and Big Pharma, this is the group we need on our side!
Unfortunately, a study published last month in Public Health Nutrition reported that AND had accepted millions of dollars from food, pharmaceutical, and agribusiness companies in exchange for policies that favored the same big corporations responsible for the problem they are supposedly trying to solve. The same study also revealed that AND invested in ultra-processed food company stocks, like Nestle and PepsiCo.
Can you trust today’s dietitians if they’re taking from money from companies with blatantly unhealthy products?
Let that sink in for a minute. The largest group representing dietitians and other nutrition professionals has an investment portfolio with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into the companies that make KitKats and Mountain Dew.
Here is a dumb question: should public health groups invest in companies that make products that detract from our health or directly conflict with their mission? No! No, they should not. Dietitians should be incentivized to help their clients reduce their junk food consumption. How can they do that if they have a financial stake in the company selling that junk food in the first place?
It gets even worse. If you go down the list of the top contributors to the AND, you’ll see the usual suspects that make up Big Food: PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Kellogg, and General Mills. Basically, if they make a sugary cereal or a sugary beverage, they probably contribute a significant amount of money to the AND or other similar special interest groups.
The key takeaway? When taking control of our health and nutrition, we all have to take personal responsibility and acknowledge the unfortunate fact that the entire system is rigged against us. The healthcare, food, agricultural, and professional nutritional systems all have a vested interest in the obesity problem staying a problem.
No one else is going to look out for our health and the health of our friends and families. That responsibility falls on us and us alone. But at least you have the Daily Tonic and 24/7 Health to keep you up to date on the latest health news to keep you informed and moving in the right direction!
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