Tag: Claire Hewat

WHY DAA MAY REGRET ‘SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY’

By Marika Sboros

It’s no real surprise that Big Food loves the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). DAA has quietly carved out close to a monopoly for its members on giving dietary advice to the public.

It regularly dishes up messages that feed Big Food’s interests and product sales. Critics say that it makes sense, then, that processed food and drink industries happily pay oodles of boodle to keep that monopoly going and messages flowing. They say that DAA’s self-regulated status makes it even more attractive to those interests. It means that DAA can pretty much do as it pleases and it does.

Yet there’s a downside to DAA’s cosy relationship with food industries. British obesity researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe has called it “sleeping with the enemy”. In a critique of conflicts of interest in her groundbreaking book, The Obesity Epidemic, What Caused it? How Can We Stop It?, she looks at the consequences. Harcombe was referring to the US dietetics fraternity. She could have been talking about DAA. In Part 3 of this series, Foodmed.net looks at why critics say that DAA may bitterly regret getting into bed with Big Food.



DAA TALKING HEADS: TIME FOR NEW CONVERSATION?

By Marika Sboros

One reason for the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) credibility problem, say critics, is its public face. They say that by default or design, DAA media spokespersons regularly dispense low-fat, high-carb dietary advice that serves the interests of food-industry partners. Such advice lacks evidence for safety and efficacy to treat or prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

DAA spokespersons also regularly show special antipathy towards Paleo and low-carb diets to treat these conditions, despite growing evidence. As well, some spokespersons are prominent university academics. Thus, critics say this leaves DAA open to a common industry tactic. It is the “halo effect” that results from “eminence-based” rather than evidence-based nutrition information. It helps to embed unhealthy products as healthy in public consciousness

In Part 2 of this series, Foodmed.net takes a look at some of those talking heads. We also look at why critics say that the conversation needs to change.



IS DOWN UNDER’S DAA REALLY IN BED WITH BIG FOOD?

By Marika Sboros

Is the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) in bed with Big Food? It’s nearly two years since US public health lawyer Michele Simon first raised the question. She worded it slightly differently at the time. Her answer was an unequivocal “yes” in And Now A Word From Our Sponsors in February 2015. But has anything changed in the interim?

DAA says that it is not in bed with Big Food now and never has been. It claims that its sponsors – “partners”, it prefers to call them – have no influence on the advice it dishes out.  It also claims to take “great care to guard against conflict of interest”.

Its critics say otherwise. They say that DAA is heavily conflicted and has been for decades. Critics also say that DAA is little more than a front for the food industry. Read on and make up your own mind.