What is McDonald's doing catering a ‘health' conference?

Say you’re looking for some tips to eat healthier. Who would you consult?

Would you go to the McDonald’s web site to learn the best ways to “eat healthy”? Or consult Coca-Cola about concerns with obesity and diabetes? Or how about calling up the Corn Refiners Association and asking if it’s okay to eat food with high fructose corn syrup in it?

Of course not!

You would want more professional advice for questions like that.

Like, say, a professional dietitian.

Surprise, surprise…

You see, registered dietitians, it turns out, actually get a lot of their “training” from these very companies. That’s because the conferences they must attend to keep their accreditations up to snuff are sponsored by some of the country’s biggest food brands.

These companies are now the main contributors to the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest association of professional nutritionists and dietitians.

And you can bet they’ve got booths set up at all the events these folks attend.

In fact, at a recent conference of California dietitians, lunch was catered by – who else? — Mickey D’s.

And among the events was a panel discussion of “Sweeteners in Schools.” It was sponsored by none other than the Corn Refiners Association. That’s the trade group that made those commercials saying HFCS is perfectly safe — and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Of course, the officials in charge of these meetings claim the food industry doesn’t influence their policies, and that members should think for themselves. And that’s what some have tried to do – by setting up their own group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity.

The first time that group’s head, Andy Bellatti, attended a national conference, he was shocked. “I thought, ‘No wonder Americans are overweight and diabetic. The gatekeepers for our information about food are getting their information from junk-food companies,'” he said.

So Bellatti took some pictures, posted them, on his blog, and suggested policy changes. And one was made as a result.

The next year, cameras were banned at the conference.


“I went to the nutritionists’ annual confab. It was catered by McDonald’s” Kiera Butler, May 12, 2014, Mother Jones, m.motherjones.com