Thursday, November 24, 2016

How Kellogg's Paid Dietitians to Be Human Tony the Tigers

The professional credibility of registered dietitians took another hit this week after Associated Press reporter Candice Choi unveiled Kellogg's history of paying off dietitians to convince people that breakfast cereal is an essential part of a healthy diet.
Kellogg's received a thumbs up
from the dietitians to whom
it paid consulting fees.

Choi's article revealed the Kellogg-funded Breakfast Council of "independent experts" was not so independent after all. The Battle Creek company essentially bribed registered dietitians to tweet and write blog posts about the health benefits of eating cereal for breakfast and required the RDs to sign a contract forbidding them from hawking products "competitive or negative to cereal."

Although the council dissolved this year after half a decade marveling over Mini Wheats and engaging in other morally questionable behavior, repercussions to the collective reputation of registered dietitians will linger long after the last snap, crackle and pop of the council's existence.

Such RD media darlings as Sylvia Klinger and Darlene Hayes were outed as Kellogg's social media puppets in Choi's article, but their dubious dealings will hopefully cause the public to be more skeptical and question the motives behind any dietitian's claim, asking:

Is the statement based on fact or a fat consulting fee?

Kellogg's covert scheme to deceive the public surfaced a year after New York Times reporter Anahad O'Connor uncovered a similar plot by Coca Cola to convince the public that soda could be part of a healthy and balanced diet. The cola company created the Global Energy Balance Network, a credible sounding cadre of researchers and dietitians it compensated to shift the blame for obesity away from sugary beverages.

The photo below and accompanying caption hint at the major hit to dietitians professional reputations.
The Kellogg booth at an annual dietitians' conference, where company representatives explained the health benefits of their products, in Boston. On its website, amid news of Pop-Tarts and Frosted Flakes, Kellogg touted a distinguished-sounding breakfast council of independent experts dedicated to guiding its nutritional efforts. (AP File Photo)
As more and more plots to use dietitians as "nutrition influencers" are revealed by the media, many dietitians are starting to come clean about receiving money for being corporate shills.

Unfortunately, these same food and beverage corporations sponsor continuing education courses for dietitians; so many could unwittingly do their bidding for free.

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