by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: ASN(American Society of Nutrition)

Nov 20 2023

Nutrition professional organizations should not partner with food companies

Just because all of the major nutrition professional organizations partner with food companies, does not make it a good idea.  If nothing else, partnerships with food companies raise reputational risks.  They give the appearance of conflicted interests, as David Ludwig and I warned in 2008.  I have also written about the hazards of food industry sponsorship of professional organizations in Food Politics, Soda Politics, and Unsavory Truth.  Here’s what they are doing now.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND, formerly the American Dietetic Association)  OOPS.  My error.  This should be the American Diabetes Association (even worse).  Abject apologies.  This is what I get for not reading more carefully.  Apologies again.

If I seem to be picking on AND, it’s because it is bigger and gets into more trouble than other nutrition professional societies.

The latest example: According to Reuters, a former AND officer, Elizabeth Hanna, has sued the organzation for “firing her for objecting to what she called a “pay to play” scheme to promote the no-calorie sweetener Splenda.

In its 2022 annual report, the ADA said Splenda was one of a group of “elite” supporters that had given more than $1 million, along with Bayer Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Helmsley Charitable Trust and others.

On its website, Splenda publishes “diabetes-friendly recipes,” endorsed by the ADA. Hanna, a registered dietitian nutritionist, said she refused to approve the endorsement of several of these recipes in July.

…The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website that some studies have found possible health risks associated with the sweeteners, but that more research is needed.

American Society for Nutrition (ASN)

I am a member of this society and raise objections every time I get something like this in my e-mail.

Sponsored Webinar: Oral Health and Nutrition: Imperative for Healthy People 2030 and US Dietary Guidelines   Sponsored By: Mars Wrigley and the Oral Health Alliance.  The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines (DGA) identified dental caries as a major diet-related chronic disease of public health concern….

Doing this sort of thing risks reputation.

Evidence:  In a video on ultra-processed foods, the Financial Times identifies the ASN as “food industry advocacy group.”

The ASN’s executive director assures me they will ask for a correction.

Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior

Et tu?

It just announced a webinar, “Latinos love affair with Mangos: Maintaining Generational Food Traditions to Improve Health Outcomes.”

This is “a webinar sponsored by the National Mango Board, SNEB Organizational Member.”

The mango is…one of the world’s most popular fruits, and a staple food across Spanish speaking countries of North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Beyond its culinary popularity, an expanding body of research shows associations with mangos and risk reductions for inflammation and metabolically- based chronic disease, many of which disproportionately impact Hispanic American populations.

Mangos as opposed to any other fruit?

I am also a member of this society.

Overall comment

Are the reputational risks—and the loss of integrity—worth the money?  I don’t think so.

Nov 14 2023

The food industry’s role in dietetic education

I frequently get sent copies of e-mailed messages sent to members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the professional organization for people holding credentials as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN).

Disclosure: I do not hold this credential; long after I had a doctorate while I was doing a later master’s in public health, I fulfilled all of the graduate and clinical requirements but was still short one undergraduate course.

Holders of the RDN must complete 75 credits of continuing education courses every five years to maintain the credential.  Usually, dietitians must pay for courses to meet those credits.

But as my correspondents make clear, food complanies offer courses for credit—at no cost.

It is not at all difficult to fully meet credit requirements through industry-sponsored courses.

Here are some examples:

  • International STEVIA Council.  Stevia: The Science Beehind the Sweet: a complimentary webinar that will review the most recent scientific evidence supporting the use of stevia to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve quality of life.
  • This…Free CPEUs: Webinar on Dietary Diversity: Join PepsiCo Health & Nutrition Sciences on Thursday, December 7th for the latest research on incorporating more diverse foods, such as whole grains, legumes and other under-consumed food groups, in dietary patterns. This webinar will also feature a fun culinary demo! Earn 1.25 free CPEUs. Register now.
  • The Latest on Low- and No-Calorie Sweeteners: What You Need to Know. This activity is accredited by Heartland Food Products Group. 1.0 CPEU FREE
  • Looking for more free CPE opportunities?  IFIC has 20+ hours of CPEUs available here  [NOTE: IFIC, the International Food Information Council, is a food industry trade association focused on education].

Comment: One can only imagine what those sessions will say.  Do not expect anything critical about the sponsor’s products.

But here’s an even easier way to pick up a bunch of credits.

Free CPE Opportunities are Now Available for Reading the Dietary Guidelines for Americans!  A Special Treat for Professionals: Free CPE Units Available Now for Reading the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

You can now earn 2.0 free continuing professional education (CPE) credits for reading the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025! Credits are provided by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), the credentialing body for Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians, Registered.

The self-study module will equip professionals with knowledge of the scientific underpinnings that makes the Dietary Guidelines relevant across all life stages. Participants will also learn science-based advice on what to eat and drink to build a healthy diet that can promote health, help prevent diet-related chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.

Visit CPE Opportunities | Dietary Guidelines for Americans to start earning credits and stay updated on the release of future modules.

Comment:  Let’s hope that dietitians have already read the Dietary Guidelines at some point.  Or maybe it takes free credits to get anyone to slog through its 150 pages.

In any case, AND should not be allowing food companies to “educate” dietitians.

Just to be fair: the society to which I belong, the American Society of Nutrition, is doing this.  It too should not.


May 1 2023

American Society for Nutrition commissions highly conflicted meta-analysis

I was surprised to see a press release from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN—of which I am a member) announcing publication of a research paper the Society had commissioned and published on sugars and body weight: Important food sources of fructose-containing sugars and adiposity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials.

The paper, the press release said, “Illustrate[s] The Need for Nuance in Public Health Guidance Related to Consumption of Sugars: Findings call into question recommendations that imply all sources of fructose-containing sugars carry the same risk.

The press release notes that “this comprehensive review is timely as the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee currently assesses the latest science to inform updated evidence-based recommendations,” and it quotes the lead author: “There is an opportunity for more food-based guidance around sugars to help ensure Americans don’t inadvertently eat less health-promoting foods containing fructose – especially at a time when most people don’t eat enough of all forms of fruit, which offer significant health benefits.”

Uh oh.  This is an easily misinterpreted message.

My immediate question:  Who wrote the paper ?

No surprise.: authors with extensive conflicts of interest.

I’ve written about some of these authors’ conflicts of interest disclosures previously.  See, for example. this, this, and this.

Just for fun, I’ll post this particular statement of the conflicted interests at the end of this post.

Basically, these authors do not understand the difference between a conflict of interest (financial ties, which are discretionary) and non-discretionary viewpoints (all researchers have them).  In this case, consulting for a sugar company is a conflict; being a vegan or avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages is not.

My second question: Why did ASN commission this paper, and from these particular authors no less?

I contacted John Courtney, the long-time executive director of the ASN.  He said this was a leftover from an initiative started ten years ago.  Since then, the ASN has decided not to commission papers on controversial topics and this will not happen again.

Good.  It shouldn’t.  Commissioning papers like these make the ASN look like an arm of the food industry.  The ASN should avoid even teh appearance of conflicts of interest as much as it possibly can.

You don’t believe this is a problem?  Take a look at this conflict of interest statement.  Enjoy!

Conflict of Interest

JLS is a member of the Journal’s Editorial Board and played no role in the Journal’s evaluation of the manuscript.

LC was a Mitacs-Elevate postdoctoral fellow jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Sugar Institute (September 2019–August 2021). She was previously (2010–2018) employed as a casual clinical coordinator at INQUIS Clinical Research, Ltd. (formerly Glycemic Index Laboratories, Inc.), a contract research organization.

AC and AA have received funding from a Toronto 3D MSc Scholarship award.

SA-C was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canadian Graduate Scholarships Master’s Award, the Loblaw Food as Medicine Graduate Award, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and the CIHR Canadian Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award. She avoids consuming NSBs and SSBs and has received an honorarium from the international food information council (IFIC) for a talk on artificial sweeteners, the gut microbiome, and the risk for diabetes.

NM was a former employee of Loblaw Companies Limited and current employee of Enhanced Medical Nutrition. She has completed consulting work for contract research organizations, restaurants, start-ups, the International Food Information Council, and the American Beverage Association, all of which occurred outside of the submitted work.

TAK has received research support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the International Life Science Institute (ILSI), and the National Honey Board. He has taken honorarium for lectures from International Food Information Council (IFIC) and Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS; formerly ILSI North America).

FA-Y is a part-time Research Assistant at INQUIS Clinical Research, Ltd., a contract research organization.

DL reports receiving a stipend from the University of Toronto Department of Nutritional Sciences Graduate Student Fellowship, University of Toronto Fellowship in Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto Supervisor’s Research Grant—Early Researcher Awards, and Dairy Farmers of Canada Graduate Student Fellowships; a scholarship from St. Michael’s Hospital Research Training Centre, and a University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies Conference Grant.

AZ is a part-time Research Associate at INQUIS Clinical Research, Ltd., a contract research organization, and has received funding from a BBDC Postdoctoral Fellowship. She has received consulting fees from the GI found.

RJdS has served as an external resource person to the World Health Organization’s Nutrition Guidelines Advisory Group on transfats, saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. The WHO paid for his travel and accommodation to attend meetings from 2012–2017 to present and discuss this work. He has also performed contract research for the CIHR’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Diabetes, Health Canada, and the World Health Organization for which he received remuneration. He has received speaker’s fees from the University of Toronto and McMaster Children’s Hospital. He has held grants from the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research, Population Health Research Institute, and Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation as a principal investigator and is a co-investigator on several funded team grants from the CIHR. He has served as an independent director of the Helderleigh Foundation (Canada). He serves as a member of the Nutrition Science Advisory Committee to Health Canada (Government of Canada) and is a co-opted member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition Subgroup on the Framework for the Evaluation of Evidence (Public Health England).

TMSW was previously a part owner and now is an employee of INQUIS and received an honorarium from Springer/Nature for being an Associate Editor of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

CWCK has received grants or research support from the Advanced Food Materials Network, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, Almond Board of California, Barilla, CIHR, Canola Council of Canada, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, International Tree Nut Council Research and Education Foundation, Loblaw Brands Ltd, the Peanut Institute, Pulse Canada, and Unilever. He has received in-kind research support from the Almond Board of California, Barilla, California Walnut Commission, Kellogg Canada, Loblaw Companies, Nutrartis, Quaker (PepsiCo), the Peanut Institute, Primo, Unico, Unilever, and WhiteWave Foods/Danone. He has received travel support and/or honoraria from the Barilla, California Walnut Commission, Canola Council of Canada, General Mills, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, International Pasta Organization, Lantmannen, Loblaw Brands, Ltd., the Nutrition Foundation of Italy, Oldways Preservation Trust, Paramount Farms, the Peanut Institute, Pulse Canada, Sun-Maid, Tate & Lyle, Unilever, and White Wave Foods/Danone. He has served on the scientific advisory board for the International Tree Nut Council, the International Pasta Organization, McCormick Science Institute, and Oldways Preservation Trust. He is a founding member of the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), Executive Board Member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, is on the Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee for Nutrition Therapy of the EASD and is a Director of the Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials foundation.

DJAJ has received research grants from Saskatchewan & Alberta Pulse Growers Associations, the Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program through the Pulse Research Network, the Advanced Foods and Material Network, Loblaw Companies, Ltd., Unilever Canada and Netherlands, Barilla, the Almond Board of California, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Pulse Canada, Kellogg’s Company, Canada, Quaker Oats, Canada, Procter & Gamble Technical Centre, Ltd., Bayer Consumer Care, Pepsi/Quaker, International Nut & Dried Fruit Council, Soy Foods Association of North America, the Coca-Cola Company (investigator initiated, unrestricted grant), Solae, Haine Celestial, the Sanitarium Company, Orafti, the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, the Peanut Institute, Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI), the Canola and Flax Councils of Canada, the Calorie Control Council, the CIHR, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund. He has received in-kind supplies for trials as a research support from the Almond Board of California, Walnut Council of California, the Peanut Institute, Barilla, Unilever, Unico, Primo, Loblaw Companies, Quaker (Pepsico), Pristine Gourmet, Bunge Limited, Kellogg Canada, and WhiteWave Foods. He has been on the speaker’s panel, served on the scientific advisory board and/or received travel support and/or honoraria from Nutritional Fundamentals for Health (NFH)-Nutramedica, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, The University of Chicago, 2020 China Glycemic Index International Conference, Atlantic Pain Conference, Academy of Life Long Learning, the Almond Board of California, Canadian Agriculture Policy Institute, Loblaw Companies, Ltd., the Griffin Hospital (for the development of the NuVal scoring system), the Coca-Cola Company, Epicure, Danone, Diet Quality Photo Navigation, Better Therapeutics (FareWell), Verywell, True Health Initiative, Heali AI Corp, Institute of Food Technologists, SNI, Herbalife Nutrition Institute, Saskatchewan & Alberta Pulse Growers Associations, Sanitarium Company, Orafti, the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, the Peanut Institute, Herbalife International, Pacific Health Laboratories, Barilla, Metagenics, Bayer Consumer Care, Unilever Canada and Netherlands, Solae, Kellogg, Quaker Oats, Procter & Gamble, Abbott Laboratories, Dean Foods, the California Strawberry Commission, Haine Celestial, PepsiCo, the Alpro Foundation, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, DuPont Nutrition and Health, Spherix Consulting and WhiteWave Foods, the Advanced Foods and Material Network, the Canola and Flax Councils of Canada, Agri-Culture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, Pulse Canada, the Soy Foods Association of North America, the Nutrition Foundation of Italy, Nutra-Source Diagnostics, the McDougall Program, the Toronto Knowledge Translation Group (St. Michael’s Hospital), the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, the Canadian Nutrition Society, the American Society of Nutrition, Arizona State University, Paolo Sorbini Foundation, and the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes. He received an honorarium from the United States Department of Agriculture to present the 2013 W.O. Atwater Memorial Lecture. He received the 2013 Award for Excellence in Research from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council. He received funding and travel support from the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism to produce mini cases for the Canadian Diabetes Association. He is a member of the ICQC. His wife, Alexandra L Jenkins, is a director and partner of INQUIS Clinical Research for the Food Industry. His 2 daughters, Wendy Jenkins and Amy Jenkins, have published a vegetarian book that promotes the use of the foods described in this study, The Portfolio Diet for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction (Academic Press/Elsevier 2020 ISBN:978-0-12-810510-8). His sister, Caroline Brydson, received funding through a grant from St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation to develop a cookbook for 1 of his studies. He is also a vegan. JLS has received research support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Research Fund, Province of Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and Science, Canadian Institutes of health Research (CIHR), Diabetes Canada, American Society for Nutrition (ASN), International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) Foundation, National Honey Board [the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) honey “Checkoff” program], Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS), Pulse Canada, Quaker Oats Center of Excellence, The United Soybean Board (the USDA soy “Checkoff” program), The Tate and Lyle Nutritional Research Fund at the University of Toronto, The Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Disease in Type 2 Diabetes Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by the Alberta Pulse Growers), The Plant Protein Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund that has received contributions from IFF), and The Nutrition Trialists Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by an inaugural donation from the Calorie Control Council). He has received food donations to support randomized controlled trials from the Almond Board of California, California Walnut Commission, Peanut Institute, Barilla, Unilever/Upfield, Unico/Primo, Loblaw Companies, Quaker, Kellogg Canada, WhiteWave Foods/Danone, Nutrartis, Soylent, and Dairy Farmers of Canada. He has received travel support, speaker fees, and/or honoraria from ASN, Danone, Dairy Farmers of Canada, FoodMinds LLC, Nestlé, Abbott, General Mills, Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre, Nutrition Communications, International Food Information Council, Calorie Control Council, the International Sweeteners Association, the International Glutamate Technical Committee, Phynova, and Brightseed. He has or has had ad hoc consulting arrangements with Perkins Coie LLP, Tate & Lyle, Phynova, and INQUIS Clinical Research. He is a former member of the European Fruit Juice Association Scientific Expert Panel and a former member of the Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) Scientific Advisory Committee. He is on the Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committees of Diabetes Canada, European Association for the study of Diabetes, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and Obesity Canada/Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons. He serves or has served as an unpaid member of the Board of Trustees and an unpaid scientific advisor for the Carbohydrates Committee of IAFNS. He is a member of the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), Executive Board Member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group of the EASD, and Director of the Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials foundation. His spouse is an employee of AB InBev.

XYQ, SB, NM, VH, EL, SBM, VLC, and LAL declare no competing interests.


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Sep 12 2022

Conflicted interests of the week: the Dairy Council and nutrition scientists

I was interested to see this article in Hoard’s Dairyman: Bringing dairy research to thought leaders.

It explains how food trade associations build relationships with nutrition scientists.

The article discusses the role of the  National Dairy Council (NDC) , in getting research on the benefits of dairy products “into the hands of our science-based colleagues around the country and even globally.”

This is why NDC circles various conferences and meetings on our calendar where we present dairy research and continue establishing relationships with credible third-party organizations.

One of the most important groups is the American Society for Nutrition (ASN)…ASN is the world’s largest nutrition science organization with about 7,000 members from more than 100 countries representing the academic, government, and private business sectors. Many ASN members embody the next generation of scientists and it’s critical we get to know each other.

The article goes on to explain how the NDC:

  • Worked to ensure that the latest dairy science was part of this year’s ASN agenda.
  • Led a symposium on dairy’s components and cardiovascular health and diabetes.
  • Presented on dairy’s unique nutrient package
  • Holds leadership positions within ASN.


ASN is just one stop for NDC. We’ll also be involved with conferences hosted by other key organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, Institute of Food Technologists, International Dairy Federation’s World Dairy Summit, Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences, and others.

I am a member of ASN and have long been concerned about its too cozy relationships with food companies and their trade associations.  I eat dairy foods and think they have a reasonable place in healthy diets, but they are not essential to human health.  Research debates on dairy products continue, and the close involvement of the NDC in a nutrition professional association compromises the independence of that association.

When I complained about the inherent conflicts of interest in such relationships, ASN officials explained that they want the association to be inclusive, a “big tent.”

Inclusivity is nice, but in this case the benefit goes more to the NDC than to the ASN.

Hoard’s Dairyman is not something I usually see, so I thank Lynn Ripley for sending.


Coming soon!  My memoir, October 4.

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Jun 13 2022

Industry sponsorship of nutrition societies

I am a member of the American Society for Nutrition and received this notice about a sponsored session at it forthcoming annual meeting.

Potatoes generally score high on the Glycemic Index, indicating that their starches are quickly digested to sugars.  The Alliance for Potato Research & Education has a speaker at this session.  I’m guessing that the speakers won’t have anything good to say about the Glycemic Index.  I don’t either, actually, but opinions would be more credible if they came from independent sources.

This made me look up the other sponsored sessions.

Here’s another reason why I don’t think the ASN should allow these sessions at annual meetings.

In my experience, you don’t get much scientific debate at industry-sponsored scientific sessions. Alas.

Jan 22 2019

American Society for Nutrition’s “Trust” report: open for membership and public comment

Last week, I received a press release from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) announcing the release of the long-awaited (by me, at least) report of its Blue Ribbon Panel, “Best practices in nutrition science to earn and keep the public’s trust.”

The Blue Ribbon Panel was created in response to a growing perception among researchers that public trust in nutrition science is eroding as nutrition information is increasingly being received from an expanding variety of sources, not all of which are clear about their motivations, qualifications, or ethical standards…The panel, an independent group composed of 11 members from a variety of disciplines, was charged with identifying best practices to allow effective collaborations while ensuring that ASN’s activities are transparent, advance research, and maintain scientific rigor, engendering trust among all nutrition science stakeholders.

I have long been troubled by ASN’s partnerships and financial relationships with food companies, which make it appear as an arm of the food industry rather than an independent source of information and advocacy for public health nutrition.

I spoke to the Panel about my concerns in April 2016 at its first (and only in-person) meeting about how I would be writing about these concerns in my then-forthcoming book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.  The book includes a chapter—“Co-opted? The American Society for Nutrition”—devoted to this group’s ties to food companies:

In that chapter, I talk about ASN’s corporate Sustaining Partners, sponsored awards and conference symposia, partnerships with dubious food-industry initiatives, industry-friendly position statements, limited disclosure of financial ties to food companies, and the beliefs of society officials in the value of industry ties.  In later chapters, I discuss the frequent publication of industry-sponsored research in ASN’s scientific journals, and the industry affiliations of some journal editors and peer reviewers.  Overall, I note that “ASN’s apparent support of food-industry objectives makes it seem to be favoring commercial interests over those of science of public health” (p. 138).

I also discussed my hopes for the Panel:

I thought appointment of the Trust Committee was an impressive step, especially because its members were distinguished experts in nutrition science, public perception, and conflicts of interest.  If any group could rise to the challenge—create a policy that allowed industry funding but protected integrity—this one could” (p. 129).

Alas, no such luck.  The Panel’s recommendations largely were targeted to individuals.  Its members could not reach agreement on how the society should handle its own conflicted interests.  It made recommendations in six areas:

  1. Manage conflicts of interest (COIs) in partnerships and activities
  2. Uphold the standards for evidence-based conclusions in publications
  3. Maintain effective dialogue between ASN, the public, and the media
  4. Develop guidelines for conducting nutrition research funded by entities with COIs
  5. Perform independent audits of adherence
  6. Disclose all COIs of financial and other sources

The first is of particular interest.  The Panel gave ASN two options:

  • 1A.  The ASN should enter into partnerships and other agreements only when these partnerships or agreements are supported exclusively by membership resources or not-for-profit entities with no COIs.
  • 1B.  The ASN should develop a rigorous, transparent approach to cosponsoring and managing all activities financially supported by “entities and/or individuals at interest” [perhaps through an advisory board, or guidelines for individuals].

I, obviously, favor option 1A, mainly because of substantial evidence (reviewed in my book) that perceived conflicts of interest—and, therefore, distrust—cannot be eliminated by approaches that allow for financial ties to food, beverage, and supplement companies making products of dubious health benefit.

These options—and the other recommendations—are now open for comment by ASN members—and anyone else who is interested—at this site.

The deadline for comments is February 15.  I have filed mine.  Please do not miss this opportunity to weigh in on the kind of ethical standards you think this leading nutrition society should uphold.

Feb 10 2016

The American Society for Nutrition appoints Advisory Committee on Trust in Nutrition Science

I am a long-standing member of the American Society of Nutrition (ASN), and have been troubled for years by its cozy financial relationships with food companies (see, for example, this post from 2009 and the response from ASN).

ASN’s members are nutrition researchers.  The Society publishes the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Journal of Nutrition, and Advances in Nutrition, sources of many of the industry-funded research articles I post regularly on this site.

ASN’s financial ties to food companies were the subject of an investigative report by Michele Simon last year: “Nutrition Scientists on the Take from Big Food: Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility?

I am delighted to report that the ASN has now responded to these concerns, and in an especially constructive way.

The Society has just announced appointment of an Advisory Committee on Trust in Nutrition Science.

The Advisory Committee is charged with identifying best practices to allow effective collaborations while ensuring that ASN’s activities are transparent, advance research, and maintain scientific rigor; engendering trust among all nutrition science stakeholders…“Maintaining trust among all constituencies and stakeholders is paramount in ensuring that ASN and its membership are effective in carrying out ASN’s mission, to develop and extend the knowledge of nutrition through fundamental, multidisciplinary, and clinical research.” said ASN President Dr. Patrick Stover.

I’m even more delighted by the membership of this truly distinguished committee.  Whatever this group decides ought to carry a lot of weight.

Here’s the committee:

  • Cutberto Garza, MD, PhD, University Professor, Boston College, (Chair)
  • Vinita Bali, Chair, Board of Directors, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
  • Catherine Bertini, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Eric Campbell, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Edward Cooney, JD, Former Executive Director, Congressional Hunger Center
  • Michael McGinnis, MD, Executive Officer, National Academy of Medicine
  • Sylvia Rowe, President, SR Strategy, LLC
  • Robert Steinbrook, MD, Professor Adjunct, Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
  • Carol Tucker-Foreman, Distinguished Fellow, Consumer Federation of America Food Policy Institute
  • Catherine Woteki, PhD, Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, US Department of Agriculture
  • Patrick Stover, PhD, President, American Society for Nutrition (ex-officio member)
  • John Courtney, PhD, Executive Officer, American Society for Nutrition (ex-officio member)

The group is expected to complete its work within a year.  I eagerly await its report.

Apr 23 2010

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines: some hints at what they might say

By congressional fiat, federal agencies must revise the Dietary Guidelines every five years. This is one of those years.   The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has been meeting for a couple of years and is now nearly done.

Some unnamed person from the American Society of Nutrition must be attending meetings.  The society’s Health and Nutrition Policy Newsletter (April 22) provides a report.

From the sound of it, this committee is doing some tough thinking about how to deal with “overarching issues” that affect dietary advice:

  • The high prevalence of overweight and obesity among all Americans
  • The need to focus recommendations on added sugar, fats, refined carbohydrates, and sodium (rather than the obscure concept of “discretionary calories” used in the 2005 guidelines)
  • The benefits of shifting to plant-based, rather than meat-based, diets
  • The need to help individuals achieve physical activity guidelines
  • The need to change the food environment to help individuals meet the Dietary Guidelines

Applause, please, for this last one.  It recognizes that individuals can’t do it alone.

The committee’s key findings and recommendations:

  • Vegetable protein and soy protein: little evidence for unique health benefits, but there are benefits, such as added dietary fiber intake, from diets high in vegetable and soy proteins.
  • Carbohydrates: a consistent relationship between soft drink intake and weight gain. Overweight and obese children should reduce overall energy intake, especially from added sugars (and especially in the form of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages).
  • Fats: mono and polyunsaturated fats, when replacing saturated fats, decrease the risks of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes in healthy adults. No benefit from increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids above 250-300 mg a day.  Adults should eat two servings of fish per week to obtain omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Sodium: decrease sodium intake to 2,300 mg sodium per 2,000 calorie diet to lower blood pressure in adults and children. Since 70 percent of the population is hypertensive, the goal for most individuals should be 1,500 mg per 2,000 calorie diet.
  • Potassium: because higher intakes of potassium are associated with lower blood pressure, adults should increase intake to 4,700 mg daily.

Translation: more fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods, and changes in the food environment to make it easier for everyone to follow this advice.

Next steps: the committee is supposed to complete its report by May 12 and send it to USDA and DHHS. The agencies post the report in June for public comment. Then, agency staff write the guidelines and publish them by the end of the year.

Historical note: prior to 2005, the committee wrote the guidelines.  I was on the 1995 committee and we drafted guidelines that the agencies hardly touched (except to tinker with the alcohol guideline, as I discussed in Food Politics and What to Eat).  The guidelines have always been subject to political pressures, but with the agencies writing them, expect even more.

Let’s hope the committee’s sensible ideas will survive the process.  I will be paying close attention to how the 2010 guidelines progress.  Stay tuned.