There was a time when someone was considered an “expert.” Depending on their chosen profession – they studied for years, and knew almost everything about their products, services, the history of their work, and the ins and outs of what they did.
Judo instructors knew about the elements of teaching Judo classes. Plumbers could help you fix almost anything with your broken pipes. Teachers had their degree and certification, and could actually get you to know a particular subject. Bankers helped you with your bank account, tax questions, and financial questions. Priests would be able to not only conduct their Sunday services, but assist families and individuals in times of crisis. Today most of these professions still do what they do – but times have changed. I want to concentrate on elements of medicine and health, and the dramatic changes taking place in the very core of how their expertise is being challenged.
We’ll talk about doctors briefly – but for now let’s talk about dieticians. For decades they were known and the clinically trained food professionals who knew about food composition, certain types of diseases, meal planning, food safety issues, and the like. They were the “go to” experts and for the most part people looked to them first, as opposed to fitness trainers and chefs who had some expertise, but not like the RDs.
Recently information has come to light that the American Dietetic Association (now formally called the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – AND), has been sponsored by fast food companies and corporate food sponsors such as Coca Cola, and that dieticians are routinely attending and giving conferences and workshops sponsored by these companies.
Therefore – the information they are passing along to patients and consumers is that junk food is good, and things link organics, paleo diets, supplements, and herbs are not in the best interests of patients, not because of a lack of scientific research, but because the food industry is threatened by their competitive presence in the market.
They are working with state legislators to block the competition – going as far as delivering cease and desist orders to internet bloggers who espouse certain eating patterns.
One recent report came from MSN nutrition consultant Julie Upton – herself a RD, who reported on the results of two papers concerning drinking sugar free soft drinks and their effects on the thermal effect of meals (TEM). These reports (one by Peters, et al, and the other by Tate and colleagues) look at the use of diet sodas for weight regimes. The results? Drinking diet sodas is better than water for losing weight.
Really? Since a normal body composition should be comprised of 73% water (most bodies fall far short, though), and water is essential for every chemical process in the body – both macro and micro, then how is it that a non-nutritive substance can actually help people lose weight better than water itself?
Because these studies were sponsored by the diet soda industry. That’s why. One should understand that the case has been made for over a decade that sugar free diet sodas may be doing more harm to the body than regular sugar drinks. They stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin, and from large population studies, they increase the risk for type 2 Diabetes. So why would a RD be promoting the use of these in articles to the American population? It seems as though the RD association is more concerned with keeping their hold on nutrition advice than helping people eat better.
Over the past 40 years that medicine and dietetics have let corporate farming and mega pharma companies take over the dispensing of health to American people – they have gotten sicker, fatter, and now will live less longer lives with more chronic problems than the past generation (those born in the 1940s and prior). Why? Because people my age (around 50) grew up with sugar cereals, white bread, and soda pop. My parent didn’t. They ate farm fresh eggs and oats for breakfast, composted their coffee grounds and banana peels, and didn’t have ice cream, cookies, protein bars, and tons of other snack items as part of their regular daily intake. Fast food in the 1960s was a treat – not an every-day occurrence.
So we look to the experts in healthy eating – the dieticians, who are shills for the food industry like doctors are pushers for the pharma industry. It seems ironic that a doctor with 10 years of college training takes his or her marching orders from a 28 year old pharma rep who may not even have a Bio degree (most likely communications – because that’s one of the hip Liberal Arts degrees from the major colleges these days.
So what’s the solution? How about we take a cue from the organic farmer’s market vendors. They look to competition to sell their ways. Good old fashion supply side economics. They grow and pick their own foods, they are fresh within 24 hours of the market, they compete against all of the other organic (and non organic vendors), and what most don’t consider – they compete against grocery stores who sell many types of food products that are packaged, and have little nutrition value.
So – who is the expert at nutrition now in the US? The RD? The paleo blogger, the personal trainer? The supplement store owner? The Farmer’s Market vendor? How about they all contribute, and the consumer needs to make an informed choice.
What’s happening in this whole scenario is that lazy health care professionals don’t want to compete in the “free” market, so they look to legislatures to block anyone with a better idea. This is changing (which is great), but it needs to be addressed. Otherwise RDs like Julie Upton will be spreading advice to consumers based on backroom deals and junk science paid for by big food companies. She has cheapened her profession by what she is doing. She should know better. However – this situation will only get worse before it gets better, as healthcare professionals in many states are sponsoring legislation that will restrict the practice of many types of professions to keep intelligent, good quality practitioners out of business.
In a time when the general health of Americans in deteriorating at a very rapid rate, it would seem that any practitioner with a better idea should have a seat at the table. Only those with enough money will make an effect.
Peters, JC, Wyatt, HR, Foster, GD, Pan, Z, et al. Effects of water and non-nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss during a 12-week weight loss treatment program. Obesity. 2014. 22(6): 1415-21 (supported by Coca Cola company)
Tate, RF, Turner-Mc-Grievy, G, Lyons, E, Stevens, J, et al. Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012.v 98, p. 1599. Doi:10.3945 (supported by Nestle Waters, USA)
Stanhope, KL, Medici, V, Bremer, AA, Lee, V, Lam, HD, et al. A dose-response study of consuming high fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverages on lipid / lipoprotein risk factors for cardiovascular disease in young adults. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Ap. 2015, doi:10.3945