Soda and Snack Food Companies Welcomed at Nutrition Conference

Source: Time

BY Alexandra Sifferlin

Once again, processed food companies will be at a major nutrition expo in Boston

Updated

On the weekend starting October 15, thousands of registered dietitians and nutrition experts will gather in Boston for one of the largest annual food and nutrition conferences in the U.S. The event, called theFood and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) is hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—theworld’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, with more than 100,000 nutrition practitioners.

However, not everyone appreciates the attendee list. Every year, companies that sell junk food attend the event, and as of Friday, the Expo’s floorplan shows companies like PepsiCo and Nestle (which makes candy like KitKat and Butterfinger) will have booths near the main entrance. Other trade organizations like the American Beverage Association, the National Confectioners Association and the Sugar Association will also be on the expo floor.

“[These] corporations are simply not aligned with nutrition or public health,” says registered dietitian Andy Bellatti, strategic director of the group Dietitians For Professional Integrity. “In my opinion, this makes them completely inappropriate for a nutrition conference.”

PepsiCo said that they would be featuring foods from their portfolio that contain “positive nutrients,” according to a statement sent to TIME. These foods—including Naked Juices, Tropicana Essential Probiotic Juice, Sabra Hummus, Quaker Oats, Sun Chips and more—represent 25% of the company’s global net revenue.

Last year, Coca-Cola ended its sponsorship of the Academy, after the New York Times revealed that the soda company funded an organization called the Global Energy Balance Network that shifted public health messaging away from diet and onto exercise for obesity prevention. After the revelation, Coca-Cola disclosed that it had provided $118.6 million in funding for scientific research and health and fitness programs in the U.S. since 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The food industry presence at FNCE is much less than it has been in previous years, in part because of turmoil within the organization about those linkages,” says Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU in an email exchange with TIME. “But the organization has long had close financial ties to food companies, often to its great embarrassment. The sponsoring food companies get publicity, dietitians pushing their products, and, most of all, silence on whether the products really are good for health.”

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