Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Where are all the dietitians?

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I was walking home from work the other day thinking about how great it is to see organizations like Doctors Nova Scotia and the Ontario Medical Association calling for action against energy drinks and obesity, respectfully. That got me to thinking about the fact that these are both very much issues pertaining to food. So where are the dietitians in all of this? Oh sure, you have a number of us mouthing off as individuals about these issues but where are the orchestrated efforts by our governing bodies?

As far as I can tell, from my time as a registered dietitian in both Ontario and in Nova Scotia, our provincial professional organizations don’t do much for us, let alone for the betterment of all provincial residents. They take our money, investigate if complaints are filed against us, and send out the occasional newsletter (at least they’re not promoting the food industry like Dietitians of Canada, but membership with DC is optional). I know we don’t have the same numbers as doctors do but surely to goodness we could be doing more.

I’d like to see the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association pushing for legislation regarding food security, the built environment, obesity, support of local agriculture, to name a few. And while I’m at it, I’d like to see them advocate for us dietitians. Why is it that many health plans cover scientifically unproven therapies such as naturopaths and acupuncture yet they won’t cover dietitian services which so many people could benefit from?

If anyone has a suggestion on how we can get our provincial professional organizations working for us I’d love to hear it!

Update on March 8, 2013: I was in contact with the NSDA and was asked to removed my comments pertaining to the NSDA from my blog. I was going to revise this post but I have decided to add this note instead. Unfortunately, the role of the NSDA is mandated by the government. As such, they are unable to engage in activities beyond those for which they are mandated. Apparently, advocacy is not one of their mandated activities. I apologise to the NSDA for suggesting they act in an area outside of their jurisdiction. Clearly, there is a gap in provincial dietitian organizations. With the formation of the Dietitian’s Network of Nova Scotia I hope that we will see this change.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

5 thoughts on “Where are all the dietitians?

  1. Before I went into dentistry I was in a dietetics program and it was disappointing even then to see a very timid mindset that was lockstep in line with whatever position the American Medical Association, FDA, USDA held. I always felt that dietitians could be the gatekeepers for nutritional knowledge and should have challenged the low fat, carbcentric recommendations that have helped expand the obesity/diabetes epidemic. A lot of physicians still think a low carb diet isn’t important for diabetes patients and they simply prescribe metformin and move on. And despite all of the ‘expert’ advice from media, most physicians and patients are still quite ignorant about the actual composition of food. As Zoe Harcombe recently tweeted, most people think of sirloin steak as a pile of saturated fat, when in reality,” Sirloin steak is 71% water, 21% protein, 3.3% unsaturated fat & 2.1% saturated fat. Saturated fat literally is the last thing that steak is” You can be sure that a lot of people had never heard of The American Dietetic Association and hardly anyone knows of the name change to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and fewer people still would ever think to seek nutritional advice from the academy.

    Gary Taubes and Peter Attia, MD, both frustrated with the declining state of our health and recommendations based on less than rigorous science, have formed the Nutrition Science Initiative, http://nusi.org/, to cut through the conflicting evidence and get to the truth regarding nutrition and it’s relationship to disease. Dietitians should have done this long ago.

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  2. Good for you Diana for actually realizing what many of your fellow dietitians have noticed is a rapidly growing and yes, an embarrassing truth. The food industry and “Big Soda” have purchased the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ silence. Shame on the leadership of AND who are willing to sell-out so cheaply.

    AND is also ignoring the recent study, Members’ Attitudes Toward Corporate Sponsorship of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics* done by the Department of Nutrition, Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts. Published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 7:149–164, 2012, this study shows 66% of AND members find Coke and Pepsi unacceptable as sponsors. Yet, AND continues to promote educational opportunities to RDs regarding HFCS and GMOs by no other than these unacceptable corporations who present their own biased research. I’m extremely disappointed at the lack of concern demonstrated by our fellow RD’s. To use your own words “WHERE ARE THE RD’s?”

    When the public awareness increases about this blatant conflict-of-interest the RD credential will also be diminished.

    “Oh sure, you have a number of us mouthing off as individuals about these issues but where are the orchestrated efforts by our governing bodies?”

    I’ve personally lost all confidence in AND leadership, many who are taking money as “salaries” and “perks” from the Corn Refiners Assoc, Pepsi, Coke, McDonald’s, Mars, Hershey’s, ConAgra and others.

    More dietitians need to WAKE UP and see what’s happened to their professional organization. I for one have decided this is the last year I will be paying $245+ for membership. I plan to donate the money to REAL food advocates in 2013 such as EWG and the fight for labeling GMOs.

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful and passionate comments Debra. I find it both heartening to have dietitians across boarders fighting the same battle and disheartening that we all have to fight this battle.

      I was a student member of Dietitians of Canada for a couple of years. As soon as I was accepted into an internship program I ceased renewing my membership as I was so disgusted with the amount of propaganda I received from them on behalf of the food industry. I actually got a stack of coupons for bologna once!

      I think that your suggestion to support organizations that share our ideals is a good one. I also think that we need to continue to put pressure on our respective professional organizations to become the supportive and ethical bodies that we want and need them to be.

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      • Yes, putting pressure on our professional organizations to live up to the ethics they set forth would be a good place to start, but I’m not holding my breath. I find it hilarious that CDR, the credentialing arm of Registered Dietitians in the US will start requiring 1 CEU “ethics” education per year beginning I believe in 2017.

        Good luck to you in your job search.

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