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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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South Park Creators Bring Cheesy Poofs to Walmart

Matt Stone and Trey Parker have created some of the most cutting edge satire and cultural lampooning in TV history. Are they setting themselves up to be goofed on themselves? The creators of South Park have struck up a deal with Frito-Lay to manufacture 1.5 million packages of their famous Cheesy Poofs, Cartman’s favorite junk food snack. It’s set to appear in Walmart in August.

For a couple of guys who do such a good job of poking fun at just about everything in our society, it’s hard to imagine they don’t see the irony in contributing to one of the biggest plights in modern history: childhood obesity. Usually you would think they would be on the side of goofing on our society’s dietary problems and addictions to processed foods, however distasteful or offensive they may be.
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Forget Drinkified: How PepsiCo Could Build a Better Snack

CEO of Pepsi Indra NooyiIn the May 16 edition of The New Yorker, John Seabrook delves into the ways that PepsiCo is working to reposition itself in light of the global obesity crisis. “Snacks for a Fat Planet” is bookended with the author’s interactions with Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s C.E.O. Nooyi argues that it’s not enough for the company to make snacks that taste good, but also be “the good company.”

Nooyi is clearly a leader who understands the huge potential for corporate good, both for the bottom line and for society. She also sees that the health crisis created by obesity does not bode well for the future of PepsiCo’s profits, no doubt a factor in the company’s efforts to make healthier products. Earlier this year, the company began making a number of Frito-Lay products with natural ingredients. They also have plans to reduce the amount of sodium and sugar in their products by 25 percent by the year 2015, under guidelines created by Derek Yach, the former World Health Organization cabinet director.


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Frito-Lay Jumps on the All-Natural Bandwagon

Lay's Potato ChipsPotato chips get a bad rep, often from other snacks that aim to prove themselves as healthier alternatives. Fritio-Lay appears to be making some efforts to change this image, by cutting out artificial ingredients.

“If the ingredient isn’t in a consumer’s cupboard, can we get it off the label?” says Tim Fink, director of Frito-Lay’s seasonings team. The company is also reducing the sodium content of many of its popular chip brands by 25 percent, but they’re not advertising the change for fear that people will associate the new version with tasteless health food.


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