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ADSA Big Food

Spotlight on SA’s dietetics association and its close links to Big Food in SA (

This week (4-5 June), Prof Tim Noakes will face the Health Professions Council, to answer a charge laid by the head of the Association for Dietetics of SA (ADSA) of unprofessional conduct, the worst misdemeanour a doctor can face, over an innocuous Tweet. This perverse situation has spurred the publication of articles by an investigative journalist into ADSA’s close links to Big Food, and Kellogg in particular, a concerning and unhealthy conflict of interest that sullies the ADSA’s professional integrity and leads the sceptical to believe is exacerbating SA’s shocking obesity rates and a raft of non-communicable diseases. The articles make for some fascinating and provocative reading.

THE two lengthy articles are published on Biz.News.com – here are their two introductions by its health editor, Marika Sboras, with links to the articles themselves…

Dietitians dishing you up a daily menu of unhealthy advice?

It’s an issue of growing concern globally: Big Food’s influence on public health policy – and your health and mine – through its proxies: orthodox-trained dietitians. In South Africa, the spotlight is on the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA, a voluntary group of registered dietitians), and the antics of its executive committee.

ADSA exco appears to have appropriated moral authority on who we should all listen to on what products we should buy and eat for our health’s sake. That wouldn’t be quite so worrying, were it not for ADSA’s close ties with the food industry. I  can’t take any nutrition body seriously that is in bed with companies responsible for many of the products blamed for epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and other chronic diseases sweeping the planet.

And when  its advice is based on weak science (epidemiological and associational), with effects that are shockingly clear to the naked eye: epidemics of the very same chronic diseases sweeping the globe.

Top British investigative health journalist Jerome Burne wrote a scathing blog recently titled: Cuddly dietitians in cosy embrace of industry fat cats. It’s a  disturbing read with parallels for this country. I’d prefer to think it’s  by default rather than design that some dietitians in SA act as proxies for powerful, intrusive, influential, and invasive vested interests and help to ‘health wash’ their products.

The consumer action group Grass has been looking into ADSA on that score for many months now, and found it wanting. In the first of series of posts, Grass member, Sonia Mountford, looks at ADSA’s links with Big Food and why we should all be worried. After all, as the ancient Ayurvedic proverb goes: When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is right, medicine is of no need. 

Read the article here

Why is Big Food in bed with dietitians? Follow the money!

This is the second in a series on a global and an insidious public health risk: dietitians associations in bed with Big Food, accepting sponsorship from companies that produce  unhealthy products – products so refined, processed, denatured, adulterated and far removed from their natural state, they don’t deserve to be called food.

In the  first of the series, Dietitians dishing you up a daily menu of unhealthy advice?, Sonia Mountford looked at conflicts of interest between the food industry and the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA).  

Here, Montford attempts to unravel the dynamics behind ties that bind many dietitians to Big Food in SA through their associations, and make them its proxies. What she has to say has global relevance, and while her focus is on Kellogg’s, as the company is particularly active in building relationships with dietitians, it is not the only one. Coca Cola is another, as Mounford showed in a post: Coke falls flat on health.

And dietitians aren’t Big Food’s only proxies: many doctors buy into the food  industries’ spin. At heart, there’s no big secret behind Big Food’s love affair with dietitians. A Fortune Special Report: The war on Big Food makes it clear: just follow the money.

Read the article here

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