ADA and corporate sponsorship part 2

Last week I ranted about the ADA and its corporate sponsors after hearing about the latest sponsorship by Hershey.

Fooducate also commented about this, took the initiative to contact the ADA, and posted some of the statements along with some great comments.

They found that in 2009, less than 9% of ADA’s revenue comes from corporate sponsorships.  Of ~$33 million, sponsors provided ~$2.9 million.  From the Annual Report, I found that there are approximately 70,000 members.  Membership fees bring in about $10.8 million.  Membership fees vary significantly from students ($50) to returning active members (see screenshot below), but averaging $10.8 million by 70,000 members gives ~$154.00.  To reach $2.9 million more, an average of ~$41 per member could make up the $2.9 million to rid the sponsors.

Instead of a flat $41, more could be added to certain groups.  I wonder if ADA members would be willing to pay this to see the sponsorships gone.  Maybe they could do it with a donation campaign or by making cuts in some expense categories.

But would the ADA even be willing to try?  Sponsorships simply bring in such a small amount of revenue that it doesn’t really make sense to me that they allow potential influences in what is supposed to be an evidence-based organization in the first place.

And the responses from the ADA to Fooducate suggest that it isn’t all (or much) about money.  They do think they can influence the food companies; from Fooducate’s post:

It’s important for ADA to be at the same table with food companies because of the positive influence that we can have on them. For ADA, relationships with outside organizations are not about promoting companies’ products; they are about creating nutrition messages that people can understand and act upon to improve their health and that of their families.

I would like to see evidence of why they think these relationships are currently in favor of the ADA, because it certainly doesn’t seem like it.  Maybe there are convincing examples, but they should be openly accessible.

And to no surprise, they advocate for “balance” and “moderation” with appropriate portion sizes.  How is this supposed to guide consumers through supermarkets that contain on average over 46,852 products with unique ingredients and claims?  I noted in my first post that Hershey doesn’t note anything about portion sizes in their page that features the OK from dietitians to consume their products.  As Fooducate points out, these words aren’t helping us in an obesogenic environment- people need to hear that certain foods should be avoided so the message resonates with importance, not that everything can be incorporated if you don’t eat too much of it.  Health claims on foods fool consumers quite easily as research shows, and trends are skewing selection toward food products instead of real foods.  I wish the ADA would step up and be a voice of reason instead of allowing sponsorships.

What do you think?

  • VincciT

    Wow. I didn't realize that it's actually so little – I wonder if the figures are similar for Dietitians of Canada…

  • Colby

    I would like to know this as well- I can't find the information online after some initial searching, are you able to?

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