More pressures on Dietary Guidelines: The “Back to Balance” Coalition
I had to laugh when I read Andy Bellatti’s blog post on the latest food industry front group, the Back to Balance Coalition.
A few years ago, Andy started a group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity to advocate for greater financial transparency and ethical sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Dietitians for Professional Integrity does not believe that it’s a good idea for the country’s largest organization of nutrition professionals to be sponsored by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and other Big Food giants.
I could not agree more. And the same could be said of the American Society for Nutrition. See, for example, one of its recent sponsored sessions.
Friday, December 5, 7:00 am – 8:45 am
Sponsored Satellite Program and Breakfast:
Defining Moderation: Should There Be Dietary Guidance for Chocolate?
Sponsored and organized by the National Confectioners Association
As I keep pointing out, you can’t make this stuff up.
But to return to the Back to Balance Coalition.
The Back to Balance Coalition brings together food and beverage organizations, health advocacy groups, and nutrition professionals who are supporters of balance, variety and moderation in dietary guidelines. The group aims to bring forward common sense, practicality, economic, and cultural relevance into dietary guidance.
As Andy puts it, “Leave it to the food industry to appoint itself as the sole definer of what constitutes balance, variety, and moderation.”
The beleaguered 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, as I explained yesterday, is under pressure from Congress to avoid saying anything about how food production and consumption might affect the environment, despite estimates that agriculture accounts for 15% to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Back to Balance Coalition has a different agenda. It does not want the Dietary Guidelines to say a word about eating less of any foods its members sell.
Instead, it wants the Guidelines to talk about choice [my translations follow]:
- Empowering choice is more effective than restricting it [so you will keep choosing our highly profitable junk foods].
- All foods can fit within a healthful, overall dietary pattern if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with physical activity [please ignore the amounts of money we spend to market our unhealthiest products].
- Restricting food choices by classifying specific foods as “good” or “bad” is often overly simplistic and may foster unhealthy eating behaviors [you might not buy our products!].
- Guiding Americans on which nutrient rich food choices to make versus not to make, and focusing on portion guidance to provide “how to” practical advice, can help people make wise food choices within the context of the total diet [never mind the fortunes we sink into promoting supersize junk foods].
To the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Courage!