In my book, Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis, I made the case that most dietary advice is strongly influenced by the food industry. If I had known then what I know now, I would have made an even stronger case.
A November 25 article from The Philadelphia Inquirer reports several cases of health “authorities” who are paid by food industry sources.
Lisa Hark, a widely quoted nutritionist and author, received more than $24,000 from the Florida citrus industry for six months of work, during which she endorsed orange juice as a cold fighter in TV and print interviews. Hark’s Web site describes her as “a media expert to help promote and market your company.”
David Allison was tapped to be president of the Obesity Society, a research and advocacy group, while a “paid consultant for the New York state restaurant industry as it fought a proposal to list calories on menu boards.” After strong criticism, Allison dropped the consultancy before taking over at the Obesity Society, but still…
The American Dietetic Association (the “other ADA”) has received many millions from food industry sources. The Dietetic Association markets itself to food industries. For $20,000, the ADA will print a “nutrition fact sheet” about your product in its journal, perforated so it can be torn off for “patient education.” According to Inquirer staff writer Tom Avril, “One sheet touts the purported benefits of chewing gum, such as the relief of ‘life’s everyday stresses.’ Its sponsor: the Wrigley Science Institute.” The ADA says all information in the fact sheets is scientifically accurate, but I don’t trust them…
Six of 13 “experts” on the federal government’s dietary guidelines review board have taken food or drug industry money.
If there’s one thing I have learned from the last few years of research, it’s this. Science is a rigged game. It’s not an objective search for truth; it’s a way of finding the truths that meet the sponsors’ needs. This might make you think twice about advice like the “eggs are bad for you” study I reported a couple of weeks ago. Never respond to one study or one “authority,” even if it’s your doctor. Find multiple sources; then decide. We’re lucky to live in a time when it’s fairly easy to do such research.
Happy holidays to everyone! It’s been great sharing with you and reading your comments in 2008. See you next year, or visit me at www.davidsperorn.com.
David Spero: David Spero has been a nurse for 32 years and has lived with multiple sclerosis for 25 years. He is author of two books: The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness (Hunter House 2002), and Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis – Who Gets It, Who Profits, and How to Stop It (New Society 2006). He writes for Diabetes Self-Management and Arthritis Self-Management magazines. He is a project director with New Health Partnerships: Improving care by Engaging Patients, a project of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
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