This month's copy of the British Dietetic Associations (BDA) magazine popped through my letterbox today. In order to practice as a registered dietitian in the UK, I need to be a member of the BDA; the membership provides me with insurance in case I should ever hit trouble. The BDA would not be my choice of organisation to be a member of and this month's (and every month's) copy reminds me of why.
One of the main articles in this months magazine was entitled 'The role of low calorie sweeteners in a healthy balanced diet'. It was reviewing a round table discussion which was organised by Coca Cola's Thirst for Knowledge 'educational initiative'. See here: http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/health/healthcare-professionals.html. It was obviously a supremely unbiased event (not).
I object in the strongest terms to a company like Coca Cola being ANYWHERE near a publication which is supposed to represent nutrition experts. Coca cola, in its very essence, contributes nothing to the health of any nation. I have far more respect for a company who openly advertises itself as an 'eating for the soul' type establishment and keeps its nose out of healthcare issues.
The BDA self proclaims that everyone should 'trust a dietitian'. The article itself discusses where artificial sweeteners can co exist with a typical dietetic term - 'a balanced diet'.
Is it too much to expect that soft drinks with chemically sourced additives should not be considered a part of a balanced diet? Is it too much to strongly label these 'drinks' as non foods which we swallow? Or shall we start to call toothpaste part of a balanced diet too?
A balanced diet is very simple: It consists of a variety of foods which grow in our soil, graze on land, swim in water and are minimally processed before eating. I cannot find any natural source of fizzy, acidic, additive rich drinks in nature - it is not a food.
How can people trust dietitians when these publications are constantly allowing the involvement of these companies who should have nothing to do with the health care system? It is so utterly patronising and infuriating to go on the Thirst for Knowledge website and see their 'Work it out calculator' which helps you to 'Calculate how to burn off the calories in your favourite Coca‑Cola drink'. Go away!! If I need further education as a nutrition professional it is certainly not from you Coca-cola with your pathetic, and dangerous, deflective techniques!!
There is no room for soft drinks in a balanced diet. People can consume them if they want, but they cannot be labelled a food or a drink.
Trust a dietitian who knows how to categorise actual food - isn't it the most basic step in building a healthy diet?