PepsiCo and Coca-Cola sponsor a nutrition conference.

Plus: Ideal recipes for the weekend ahead!

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"Change is the end result of all true learning."

Leo Buscaglia

Friday. It’s December. You can do with that information as you please. You might be excited for the holidays, amazed that the year is already over, or just indifferent. I, for one, love Christmas music and can appreciate that it’s not 100 degrees outside. Here is something else I would appreciate—if Big Food would stop lobbying nutritionists to do their bidding. Let’s dive in.

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PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Sponsor Nutrition Conference 

We have some (not-so-surprising) controversy coming out of the world of health and nutrition. Picture this: a prestigious event, the Annual Conference of the Nutrition Society of India, known for drawing experts and researchers from around the world. Now, imagine the surprise when people saw the sponsors for the event – no other than big names from the food and beverage industry like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Kellogg’s.

Color me surprised. 

These companies are giants in their fields, but they’re also known for products often criticized for their nutritional content. They sell junk food, for lack of a better term. 

The sponsorship by these Big Food companies raised more than a few eyebrows and sparked a heated debate. Many well-respected figures in nutrition attending the conference didn’t mince words. Rightfully so, nutrition experts expressed shock and disappointment at seeing these companies as gold sponsors. Critics pointed out that it wasn’t just about the names on the banners. The government’s involvement in the conference was also a concern since it gave the event and its controversial sponsors an unwelcome seal of legitimacy.

Critics argue that such sponsorships could skew the conference’s focus. They fear that the research agenda and study outcomes could be influenced in ways that favor these companies’ products, irrespective of public health. It’s like having a fox guard the henhouse – the interests of these big food companies could conflict with the aim of advancing unbiased nutritional science. 

I mean, duh. 

As a result, experts want to see strict guidelines and transparency about these sponsorships. They suggest revealing all sponsors and the specifics of their contributions. Clear boundaries must be set to prevent any direct influence on the conference’s agenda or the findings presented.

Even though this specific conference took place in India, this is just the latest example of the same type of conflict we see here in the U.S. In case you didn't know, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a significant influencer in U.S. food policy, receives significant funding from major processed food companies like Monsanto, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola.

Not only that, but documents released last year have shown the Academy’s involvement in quid pro quo with these corporations, ownership of stocks in ultra-processed food companies, and the receipt of millions from producers of unhealthy foods. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics denies any wrongdoing, but come on. How is it okay for Big Food to fund nutrition conferences and groups responsible for shaping food policy? 

The key takeaway? The involvement of these big food and beverage companies as sponsors of a major nutrition conference has stirred up a storm in the health and nutrition community, and rightfully so. This is a growing problem that will make it harder for us to reverse some of the troubling health trends impacting the world’s population today.

The fear is that their influence could steer conversations and research in a direction that benefits their bottom line, rather than public health. As the debate continues, the call for more stringent measures and transparency grows louder. We need to get the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and others out of our nutrition research space. Only then do we stand a chance at a healthier future.  

Tonic Shots

1. This Weekend, Treat Yourself

Berries, peanut butter, and waffles! This is an indulgent snack, for sure. But it can be a great post-workout treat if you pair it with a high quality protein. Enjoy!

2. Protein and Nutrients—On The Go!

Have a busy weekend coming up? This scrambled egg pita sandwich is the perfect for on-the-go.

3. Sunday? Football? Nachos?

Sports! Whether you watch football on Sundays or not, this is a delicious nachos recipe you can feel good about!

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