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Nearly 50 Percent of Federal Panelists Making Dietary Recommendations Have Money Ties to Food Industry

money and food industry

About half of the members of a U.S. federal government panel that shapes dietary recommendations in the United States have significant financial ties to big agriculture, processed food companies, weight loss companies, pharmaceutical companies, and other corporate organizations a recent report reveals. An additional four committee members had “possible” financial conflicts of interest.1

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DAGC) is a committee of only 20 individuals, but their findings and recommendations ripple through national and international nutrition initiatives, affecting both food eaten in homes and in public spaces. The committee is charged with reviewing nutrition science every five years and then making what are considered “gold standard” dietary recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).2

 These guidelines influence how doctors and other health care professionals and nutritionists treat patients; how federal food aid is distributed; food and nutrition labeling; how food products are formulated, and what foods are served in institutional settings such as hospitals, schools, assisted living homes, prisons and military facilities.1

The government transparency group known as U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) compiled publicly available data from the past five years about each of the 20 DGAC members and then published the report last month.

Government Transparency Organization Worried that Guidelines are “Another Sales Pitch for Big Food and Big Pharma”

“The guidelines affect the entire U.S. food system quite strongly,” stated Gary Ruskin of USRTK. “Millions of Americans’ lives are affected by this report and it’s crucial that the report tell the truth to American people, and it’s not degraded into another sales pitch for big food and big pharma.”1

At least four of the 20 panelists have connections to two or more companies, including medical device company Abbott Laboratories, pharmaceutical companies Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the National Dairy Council, and Weight Watchers International. One panel member has received almost $240,000 in grant funding from Eli Lilly.

“The last thing that a food or pharmaceutical company wants to have is a federal agency that says, ‘Don’t buy this stuff, don’t buy those products,’” Ruskin said. “That could potentially be a mortal threat to companies’ profit stream. So they are extremely attuned and sensitive to that possibility, and lobby in lots of ways to make sure that never happens.”1

USDA and HHS Under Pressure to Release Financial Conflict of Interest Disclosures

The USRTK report notes that both the USDA and HHS issued conflict of interest “disclosures” for the first time this year, but only after pressure from public health advocates and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Critics call the disclosures vague and “far from comprehensive.” The disclosures only revealed compensations from the past year and “vaguely displays the conflicts without naming names.”3

The USRTK report stated it is aiming to “fill in the gaps” left by the apathetic disclosures.2

Panel Member Shaping Nutrition Guidelines Says Obesity is Genetic and Downplays Diet and Exercise

Panel member Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, an obesity medicine physician at Mass General Hospital in Boston, came under fire earlier this year following her controversial statements downplaying the value of diet and exercise in weight loss. Stanford, who heavily advocates for weight loss drugs, states that the number one cause of obesity is genetics.4

Critics say that a physician pushing weight loss drugs for obesity should not play a role in shaping public food policy. Cody Stanford has affiliations with pharmaceutical giants Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer, and accumulated almost $70,000 in consulting fees between 2018 and 2022.3

 Frosted Mini Wheats Healthier Than Eggs, Milk, Steak and Cheese?

The chair of the committee, Sarah Booth, PhD, serves as director of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Earlier this year Tufts University researchers put out a “food compass” rating how healthy foods are on a scale from one to 100. The university’s food compass rates processed cereals such as Frosted Mini Wheats as being healthier than real foods such as eggs, milk, steak, cheese, and chicken. Tufts University touts the compass as “the most comprehensive and science-based nutrient profiling system to date. The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).5

“There is so much corporate money sloshing around under the surface in the nutrition field,” USRTK’s Ruskin stated. “The nutrition field acts like it’s for sale. Transparency isn’t the whole answer, but it’s a crucial first step toward crafting dietary advice Americans can trust.”3


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7 Responses

  1. Thank you Republicans and the “Reagan Revolution” for deregulation, union-busting, and the SWAMPING of governmental health agencies with industry insiders. If there were no Republicans then actual ethical health professionals would be put in charge of the FDA, CDC, HHS, etc etc.

    https://www.atlantamagazine.com/great-reads/a-plague-of-politics/

    “The Centers for Disease Control has been reinvented. Once, it was home to a vigorous little band of independent-minded researchers who expanded the agency from a World War II malaria control operation into a potent strike force designed to track down and eradicate infectious disease anywhere on earth. But that was before CDC itself came under the microscope of politics, before it had a billion-dollar budget, before politicians and engineers decided to redefine what constitutes infectious disease.

    The winds of change swept in under the aegis of the Reagan administration when the CDC director became a political appointee.

    After Carter’s nominee left the office, the CDC directorship became a de facto political position, in retrospect a disastrous departure from the independent-minded researchers who’d guided the agency from its modest malaria-control origins.”

    The rest of the article details more of the stench of the swamp under the Republican Ronald Reagan. How DARE anyone suggest Republicans are the solution to “draining the swamp”.

    1. Plenty of RINOs and DINOs in politics and industry allowing themselves to be tools of corporate technocracy, a political ouroboros. Regulatory capture has advanced under every executive branch. As the great American hero Ralph Nader came to understand, it doesn’t help our cause to be divided and fooled by ‘party’ slogans.

      BTW, Carter and his entire administration were members of the powerful globalist Trilateral Commission and they set the stage for the transfer of US manufacturing to China largely unopposed by union leaders who were closely affiliated with members of the TC and CFR. Reagan admin merely continued the process set into motion by Carter admin which had been in the works for decades. Reagan signed an amnesty but he and Dem politicians reneged on promises to enforce immigration laws already on the books. A bait and switch that showed us neither side in power cared what roles they were supposed to be playing on the grand stage as long as the project moves forward.

  2. So they’ve out together a comprehensive report on all the additives, the genetically modified organisms, the medications et all that have somehow sneaked into every food product on the grocery shelves, in the bins and in all the meat?

  3. The food supply is poison. ypu cannot trust any thing these people say
    actually, just do the opposite of their recommendations and you’ll be fine!
    organics are the key
    local not from california the poison capital of the world.
    heal with food not drugs and believe God will take care of all of these horrible
    lying devil worshipers.

  4. One of them is right — in a way. Twin studies of children raised apart into adulthood show that adiposity is, in fact, genetic. Environment plays less than 20% of it. However, getting away from processed whites and chemical junk covers that 20% nicely, and allows a body to drop lower in their setpoint weight range. What astounds me is how many sign up for gastric butchery or horrific drugs when, if they looked at their parents, they’d see genes in action. Even more astounding is that they will opt for body butchery over trying things known to work: beyond ditching the pathetic American diet and lowering carbs, walking 30 minutes a day, and living life NOW. And if this obsessive culture would get off the “obesity OMG!” kick, it’d be easier to do so. Nope, women are still expected to take up as little space as possible, and the dieting industry found a new target in men.

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