WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Under pressure from the Healthy Nation Coalition, the USDA revealed identities of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines “Independent Scientific Review Panel,” credited with peer-reviewing the Guidelines for scientific accuracy. Seven of eight panel members are Registered Dietitians (RDs). At the same time, RDs across America are reeling from the news that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) won’t reimburse them to provide counseling for obesity. This news comes as the American Dietetic Association (ADA)—the professional organization for RDs—is under scrutiny for ties to food and pharmaceutical industries.
“An ongoing investigation by Congress recently revealed that the ADA receives over $1 million a year in payments from pharmaceutical companies and an undisclosed amount from companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Hershey,” stated Darrell Rogers from Alliance for Natural Health-USA. ADA members have indicated that the ADA’s relationship with corporate sponsors has a negative impact on the public image of RDs and undermines their credibility.
Credibility has been further undermined by lack of evidence that methods RDs use to treat obesity are effective. As a result, many insurance companies, and now CMS, do not reimburse RDs for its treatment. According to Dr. Wendy Long, chief medical officer of TennCare, “There's really no evidence to support the fact that providing those services would result in a decrease in medical cost, certainly not immediately, and even in the longer term,"
The ADA limits the scope of dietetic education and practice to USDA-approved recommendations which may contribute to lack of evidence for effectiveness of these methods. The ADA also sponsors legislation in multiple states that would essentially confine the practice of nutrition to RDs, and outlaw highly-qualified non-RD nutrition professionals from practicing, restricting consumer choice to professionals trained to follow USDA recommendations.
Given the ADA’s ties to food and drug industries and lack of effectiveness for USDA-approved dietitian-led interventions for obesity, questions should be raised about the dominant role RDs played in creating the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
According to Adele Hite, Director of Healthy Nation Coalition, “The ADA is an industry-friendly organization. The USDA appears to rely on ADA-trained Registered Dietitians to confirm their own industry-friendly guidelines. The self-supporting relationship between the ADA and the USDA does not benefit either the credibility of RDs or the health of Americans.”