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Conflict of Interest Colored Dietitians’ Annual Food and Nutrition Conference

Sponsorships are generally beneficial and non-controversial. They’re a way to keep doing business without having to worry about funds. But what happens when those sponsorships are in direct conflict with the mission of the sponsored?

AND sponsors

When this happens in the field of dietetics, advocacy groups like Dietitians for Professional Integrity (DFPI) are formed. Founded in February by a group of citizens and 14 dietitians, they were primarily a Facebook group discussing concerns like the connection between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and Big Food.

Last month AND held their annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. DFPI attended the event, commonly referred to as FNCE, and have now released a report entitled “The Food Ties that Bind,” summarizing and detailing the message Big Food shared with the attendees.

According to the report, the Expo hall was liberally peppered with information from AND’s various partners and sponsors, including but not limited to: Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and the National Dairy Council. Corporate sponsors of FNCE had the opportunity to include “educational materials” in the tote bag provided to each attendee.

One handout, “Aspartame: One of the Most Studied Ingredients in the World,” was provided by Coca-Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. It detailed how long aspartame has existed and stated that it is used in 100+ countries around the world. It failed to include information from a recent study that found artificial sweeteners can alter the food reward-system response in the brain. This after Coca-Cola got blasted for being the health and wellness sponsor at BlogHer by the social media community.
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Relationships with Big Food Soil the Good Name of Registered Dietitians

A couple of bad reviews on Yelp can put a restaurant out of business. It’s called a reputation crisis. Registered dietitians (RDs) face a reputation crisis due to the actions of their parent organization, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). AND is being called out for having close ties to the food industry. For their nutrition conferences and events, AND accepts sponsorship from big food and beverage corporations. Sponsorship gives the appearance of conflict of interest, and in reputation management, perception is everything.

apple money

It started last October when lawyer/author Michele Simon released a report, “And Now a Word from Our Sponsors.” She called out AND for having close ties to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, and the like because those companies sponsor their continuing education activities. Soon, celebrity nutritionists like Marion Nestle and Dr. Mercola were writing about “How the Junk Food Industry Controls Registered Dietitians.” And then, this month, another incident made the New York Times, Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling. More negative press. I fear AND has sullied my unblemished reputation.
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It Takes 32 Minutes of Pilates to Burn the Calories in a Can of Coke

Beverages are one of the major culprits in the battle of the bulge. Most are high in calories, low in nutrition, and do nothing but add to your waistline. However, many of us love our sweet drinks, especially soda and diet soda. And the leader in these fizzy beverages, Coca-Cola, just launched a new calculator to help those who love their sweet drinks learn how they can burn them off.

Coca-Cola Britain just introduced the “Work It Out Calculator.” Users can access the online calorie calculator to effectively burn off a favorite Coca-Cola drink. By simply choosing a drink, like a classic Coke for example, the user can see that a can has 139 calories. Then, the user can see all the various activities they could do to burn off those 139 calories, like 32 minutes of Pilates or yoga, 36 minutes of cycling, or 17 minutes of Zumba. The 137 calories in a can of Dr. Pepper would require spinning for 14 minutes, doing Zumba for 17 minutes, or yoga for 31 minutes.

The calculator does this for all Coca-Cola products as well as provides additional information about energy expenditure and calorie burning. The calculator looks to be an easy to use tool and perhaps an effective one, but how realistic it that for the typical soda drinker? Will people who drink full-sugar soda actually stop and track their intake and then proceed to burn off their drinks before the day is over? We’re not sure Coca-Cola and calorie burning have much in common.
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Soda Vending Machines To List Calorie Counts in 2013

As if the soda industry hasn’t gained enough negative attention from the New York City soda ban, another wave of criticism has caused a serious change that will roll out as early as next year. 

What will likely become a new national standard will begin taking place in 2013: Vending machines in Chicago and San Antonio municipal buildings will begin showing calorie counts on the front of all machines.

As reported by Associated Press, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are introducing new vending machines that will show the calorie count of each beverage before you select it. Mock-ups of the new machines by Coca-Cola show 20-ounce bottles of Coke and Sprite in vending machines with labels on the glass that state “240 calories.” We can only assume that this is another initiative – much like the soda ban – to try and make people more conscious of their diet choices.

This move comes as part of the Supreme Court decision this summer to uphold President Obama’s health care law, requiring vending machines and restaurant chains larger than 20 locations to clearly post their calorie information on the menu. McDonald’s complied last month when it began posting nutrition information on its menus nationwide.

Mike Jacobson, the executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told AP that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed an amendment that would require nutrition information to be posted on the side of vending machines via a poster. His organization advocates for food safety and nutrition and is pleased about these upcoming changes, believing they will help people make more conscious decisions regarding their health.

“This would be an important step forward. Currently, people don’t think about calories when they go up to a vending machine,” he said. “Having the calories right on the button will hep them make choices.” 
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Some of America’s Top Brands are Leading Culprits in the Obesity Epidemic

You know advertising is a big deal when there’s such a thing as Advertising Week in the U.S. While few consumers took note, the event is happening this week in New York with the goal of identifying how brands sold by marketers can produce better business results.

A study released yesterday identified which brands are the most powerful and how they’re getting it right. Additionally, the study pointed out the problems of brands whose value is on the decline.

As reported by Yahoo Finance, the study is the 13th annual Best Global Brands report from Interbrand – an Omnicon Group-owned brand consulting company. The result of the study was a ranking of the top 100 most valuable brands based on measures such as financial performance, how the brand influences consumer choices, and its ability to boost its parent company’s earnings.

The best global brands of 2012 include 1) Coca-Cola, 2) Apple, 3) IBM, 4) Google and 5) Microsoft. Ferrari and Gap round out the list in slots 99 and 100, respectively.

Of the ranking, Christine Fruecthe, president and chief executive at Colle and McVoy advertising agency, believes companies should take note as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing and advertising their brand. ”When we put together advertising programs, we’re constantly keeping in mind how to add shareholder value,” she said during the Advertising Week panel on Monday. “We want to have a tangible impact on the client’s business or service.”

As an example of their work, Colle and McVoy pointed to their client Caribou Coffee Company whose share value has risen from $1.17 to $18 since beginning work with the agency. The message here? Advertising is powerful, and when done well, it works.

Coca-Cola knows this. The soda company was ranked number one again for the 13th consecutive year. Its estimated brand value? $77.8 billion, up 8 percent from the 2011 report. Coca-Cola executive vice president and chief marketing commercial officer Joseph Tripodi believes this success is due to effective ads, which he suspects will help Coca-Cola increase its revenue from $95 billion in 2008 to $200 billion in 2020.
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