Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Will CSPI Sue the Heart and Stroke Foundation?

So in the news yesterday was a press release from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that details their threat to sue Welch's if they continue to make claims about the supposed health benefits of their products (including of course their grape juice).

In the letter they sent the grape juice giant, CSPI details their  3 primary concerns that,
"1. Welch Foods claims that its 100% Fruit Juice product line is heart-healthy and may promote overall health. This claim is deceptive and misleading because Welch’s 100% Fruit Juice products may instead decrease overall health by contributing to insulin resistance and obesity, and may thus promote heart disease and diabetes.

2. Welch Foods claims that its Fruit Snacks, Fruit Juice Cocktails, Spreads, and 100% Fruit Juice drinks “Reward Your Heart” and are heart-healthy products. This claim is unlawful because it is a claim of heart disease prevention, it lacks substantiation, and it is deceptive.

3. Welch Foods claims that its Fruit Snacks products are nutritious and healthful to consume. This claim is deceptive and misleading because, far from being a healthful fruit-filled snack, Welch’s Fruit Snacks contain added sugars and artificial food dyes, lack significant amounts of real fruit, and contain no dietary fiber.
So what does this have to do with the Heart and Stroke Foundation? Well The Heart and Stroke Foundation happily sells its "Health Check" logo (the little red check mark) to 100% fruit juices (including Welch's) and fruit "snacks" and have themselves reported that consumers interpret their logo to mean,
"When you see the Health Check symbol on a food package or restaurant menu, you know the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians have evaluated this item and it can contribute to an overall healthy diet. Look for the Health Check symbol to help you make wise choices."

"The Health Check™ symbol on food packaging is your assurance that the product contributes to an overall healthy diet."

"It's like shopping with the Heart and Stroke Foundation's dietitians."
And what foods will consumers be assured contribute to an overall healthy diet and are endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation? Why the very same foods CSPI is threatening to sue Welch's over what they see as misrepresentations of their supposed health "benefits" - 100% juices and fruit snacks (filled with the added sugar that comes from fruit concentrates and purees).

A shame no one's threatening to sue the Heart and Stroke Foundation as the misinformation of their program, one that's run by a trusted health organization and not the food industry, abuses the public trust and misinforms healthy choices.

For a smattering of Health Check'ed nutritional catastrophes, see below:

3 teaspoons of sugar per 18g serving (66% sugar by weight  responsible for 80% of calories) coming from  concentrated apple purees and juices.  10X the sugar of 18g of actual apples and 40% more sugar bite for bite than you would find in Twizzlers.

2.75 teaspoons of sugar per 14g serving (79% sugar by weight  responsible for 98% of calories) coming from concentrated apple, pear, strawberry and grape purees and juices.  15.7X the sugar of 14g of actual strawberries.

9.25 teaspoons of sugar per 250mL serving (sugar responsible for 99% of calories) coming from concentrated grape, apple and raspberry juices.  One cup of this juice contains the equivalent amount of sugar as would 6.9 cups of actual raspberries.

9.5 teaspoons of sugar per 250mL serving (sugar responsible for 101% of calories?) coming from concentrated grape, cranberry and apple juices.  One cup of this juice contains the equivalent amount of sugar as would 9.5 cups of actual cranberries.

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  1. These health associations that put their sign of approval in unhealthy processed food are spreading all over the world like and infectious disease. I wonder how much they receive from the industry. All of these foundations should be sued by the consumers for giving misinformation.

  2. Corporations, health associations, and government agencies have one thing in common; dietitians. The vast majority of dietitians have been educated in a manner that guarantees that their beliefs promote the interests and protect the supply chains of corporations. Registered dietitian Adele Hite recently published comment on the situation. Here's what she said:

    "I love working with individuals, but it takes policy-level change to really make an impact on public health. Policy, however, is a double-edged sword. Decades-long cascades of unintended consequences can arise from well-intentioned policy. The Dietary Guidelines started out in 1980 as an unmandated humble little 40-page booklet offering nutrition guidance to the public, while freely admitting that 'we don’t know enough about nutrition to identify an ideal diet for each individual' and that 'in those chronic conditions where diet may be important...the roles of specific nutrients have not been defined.'

    Since then, I’m still not sure how, the Dietary Guidelines have become the center of all information and decision-making surrounding food and nutrition in America—in policy, healthcare, industry, media, and science (where researchers should know better than to use a policy document as the basis for scientific research). And—for better or worse—Americans have actually shifted their eating habits to fall in line with Guidelines recommendations.

    The Guidelines were created to prevent chronic disease. They have changed very little in 30 years while rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease have rapidly increased. Currently, there is no 'policy lever' for changing the way the Guidelines are created or administered. The Guidelines have no system of checks and balances, no outcome evaluation process, and no way to counter the influence of entrenched special interests (including both the food and science industries)."

    Justin Stoneman concurs. In his "America: A Big, Fat, Stupid, Nation" rant he says, "'Insanity,' declared Einstein. 'Is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.' Was the sharp little man predicting your strategy against the impending obesity epidemic? Thirty years of repeating the same mistakes. Not just failing to halt the crisis, but actually exacerbating it.

    And the new plan today? Fundamentally, it is identical. Michelle Obama's current, corporate-led, child obesity campaign scores 100% on well meaning -- and 0% on wholesale change. All that matters, what you are told to put in your mouth, is aligned to the same destructive, corporate-sponsored dietary doctrine."

    The problem is, neither politicians nor the academics who advise them are aware that it is "corporate-sponsored dietary doctrine" that is the problem. The science is clear. Excessive consumption of added sugars and omega-6 industrial seed oils is most of the problem. Dr. Timothy Noakes of South Africa summarizes it neatly:

    The evidence is tenuous for hypothesis, which holds that a diet full of ‘artery-clogging saturated fat causes an elevation of blood lipid concentrations, thus promoting coronary atherosclerosis and ultimately heart attack. I argue that the evidence is essentially non-existent.

    Opposing this is that coronary heart disease (CHD) is, like obesity and diabetes, an inflammatory disorder caused by abnormal carbohydrate metabolism in those eating a diet low in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and high in trans fatty acids and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats."

    1. David I am a dietitian (in Portugal we are called nutritionists) and I have a 5y degree in nutritional sciences and post-graduation in clinical nutrition.
      What you say " The vast majority of dietitians have been educated in a manner that guarantees that their beliefs promote the interests and protect the supply chains of corporations." it is seen not in majority of dietitians but in some, same for other health professions, including doctors. There are good professionals and bad professionals everywhere, don't put everyone in the same bag.
      And for your information guidelines are what the word says a guide, doesn't mean they hold the supreme truth, guidelines are made by humans, humans make mistakes (and some have other interests). A good professional goes beyond the guidelines.

    2. Katherine B2:54 pm

      Your comments about dietitians are ridiculous and misleading. I am a dietetic intern, and at the university I attended, we nutrition students were taught to critically evaluate scientific literature. Not all dietitians are in the industry's "pocket", and as Catia stated, this problem is certainly not limited to the dietetic profession.

      Blaming the rise in obesity on the dietary guidelines is confusing correlation with causation. During this same period of time, processed food consumption and sugary beverage intake skyrocketed. Furthermore, very few people actually follow these guidelines on a daily basis. While vegetable and fruit consumption may have increased, for example, the number of servings per person still falls far short of what is recommended.

      Finally, what on earth does the "diet-heart hypothesis" have to do with this discussion? (And on that note, if the culprit is omega-6 oils and trans fats, how is that not a diet-heart hypothesis...?)

    3. As a retired and reformed dietitian I am well aware of industry influence on me and what I taught my clients, much to my chagrin now. Just look at the corporate sponsors of AND
      There is a small group of RD's who are fighting this influence - just check out 'Healthy Nation Coalition' and their Facebook page. But they fight an uphill battle and face much opposition from other dietitians who still think margarine, modern vegetable oils and egg beaters are healthy.

  3. Anonymous4:43 pm

    David Brown writes "The vast majority of dietitians have been educated in a manner that guarantees that their beliefs promote the interests and protect the supply chains of corporations."

    What in the world are your sources on this statement? You discredit yourself wtih this statement so its hard to take your random points seriously. I am a Dietitian and very involved in the education of new Dietitians... where to even start? Dietitians have to have an undergraduate degree in nutrition, at the same Universities as Doctors, nurses, dentists etc. trained at. Courses are run by phd holding profs, doctors of the field, NOT by corporations. After university (not corporation led!) Dietitians need to complete a 1 year internship at a hospital... (same place doctors, nurses, etc. are trained!). so unless you want to argue that all hosptial trained staff are also trained in a way that protects the corporations your logic is incorrect... There's no conspiracy, do your homework and stop spreading foolishness on the internet.

    1. Wow. Guess I really ruffled some feathers. I'm not trying to offend you dietitians. I'm simply pointing out that the content of your academic instruction has been strongly influenced by corporate interests. This influence is ubiquitous as evidenced by this statement by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF).

      "Incorporated as a public education foundation in 1991 and based in Washington, DC, the International Food Information Council Foundation is independent and not-for-profit. We do not lobby or further any political, partisan, or corporate interest. We bring together, work with, and provide information to consumers, health and nutrition officials, educators, government officials, and food, beverage, and agriculture industry professionals. We have established partnerships with a wide range of credible professional organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions to advance the public understanding of key issues. For example, we have a long-standing relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion as part of the Dietary Guidelines Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate Food Guidance System. Recognizing the global nature of food safety, nutrition and health issues, the Foundation extends its mission internationally. We share education materials with an independent network of Food Information Organizations and partners from around the world. We also serve as a news media resource. We provide science-based information to the media and refer journalists to our 350 independent, credentialed experts on a variety of nutrition, food, and safety topics...We believe in the importance of educating health and nutrition professionals. We regularly host Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs which are offered in person and via Web cast, and have developed a series of Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the American Dietetic Association, CPE-approved learning modules on a variety of subjects."

      To be sure, the education of virtually all health professionals is affected by the corporate factor, so to speak. It is influence, not conspiracy, that is the problem. And the corporations are really not aware of the harm they are causing through their educational (IFICF) activities.

      In my opinion, the vast majority of health professionals, including dietitians, are dedicated to protecting and improving the public health. Unfortunately, some of the dogmas acquired during their training period limit the effectiveness of their dietary advice.