Hey food industry, get out of RD conferences! #FNCE

I don’t believe dietitians should allow marketing and advertising in professional conferences. If it’s common knowledge that physicians can be biased from pharma ads in journals and that free lunches worth less than $20 can affect prescribing who is to say that food advertising to dietitians won’t influence our food prescribing.

Are we somehow immune to marketing influences that other healthcare professionals aren’t immune to?

I researched Andy Bellatti for an interview earlier this year one of his online quotes stuck with me, “Even if you don’t see eye to eye with everything a fellow RD says it doesn’t mean you should rule out collaborating on mutual interests and perspectives.”

It resonated with me because as I’ve matured in my career I’ve tried to balance my passion, energy, and discontentment.

I maintain my discontentment with the ties that the food industry has built with the government in things such as food policies and the Canada’s Food Guide and I maintain discontentment that as professional RDs we allow our organizations (and sometimes governing bodies) to subtly advertise to us. Pepsi funded lecture on sweeteners, anyone?

Yes, I like walnuts. Yes, I would like to try Icelandic style yogurt for free. NO- I don’t think that it has a place at dietitian conferences. We all eat food, We all need nutrition but that doesn’t mean we all need to be targeted by marketers for “national exposure of dietitian members who influence buying decisions in every major market.”

I maintain my openness to collaborate on mutual interests with all dietitians because RD’s can be a great source of information to help improve public health BUT- please

let’s take the influence out of the education!

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I had a blog post all written for you lovelies, cued-up, ready to go. Then I started seeing the tweets coming out of FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo) and I got all annoyed and tweeted what you see above because apparently I’m a masochist. That unleashed a fun afternoon of back-and-forth with fellow RDs on twitter who either don’t see conflict of interest as an issue in our profession or don’t really care.

I keep being about to say “I’m sorry but…” but I’m NOT SORRY DAMMITYou are not immune to marketing. No one is immune. Not me, not you, not anyone and if you think you are then you are the extremely rare exception or you are sorely mistaken. Many dietitians (myself included) regularly bemoan that we can’t get any respect as a profession. Do you really think that showing your influence can be bought…

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