Thursday, January 30, 2014

Canadian Diabetes Association Taps PepsiCo to Educate its Certified Educators?

Good lord! Here's an insane guest post from our office's RD Rob Lazzinnaro. As well as being an RD with an MSc., he's also a certified diabetes educator and as such he receives the Canadian Diabetes Association's Diabetes Communicator publication. Have a peek at what he found.
I recently came back across an article/advertisement I received last year in a publication distributed by the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) called the Diabetes Communicator. I signed up for this publication to stay up date with my local Diabetes Educator Section (DES), and with the CDA.

It was entitled, "Beverages & Diabetes Management", and it was a two parter. The first talked about "Making Good Choices", and the second, "Dispelling the Juice Myth", and the pieces were written by Pepsico Canada.

As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) I would like to openly ask the CDA - what could you possibly be thinking? Partnering with one of the largest providers of processed beverages to present info on nutrition would seem to only diminish the CDA’s credibility - especially if the information provided ran contrary to good diabetes care and education.

So what information is provided? While the advertorial does not recommend sugared soda for diabetics, it does state that juice, chocolate milk and sports drinks are good choices for hydration and nutrition in diabetes management. It also seemingly encourages juice consumption with each and every meal and snack (though there is a note stating that what clearly looks like a recommended daily menu plan is in fact a plan designed to help you figure out how to incorporate juice into meals and snacks) amounting to a consumption of 3/4 of a litre daily (along with 14 teaspoons of sugar).

In practice, however:
  1. These drinks have similar (and often more) sugar, carbohydrates, and calories ounce for ounce as regular soda. They are effectively flat soda with vitamins.
  2. If you drink them regularly you will have to consume less whole food by volume in order to balance carbohydrate intake, not exactly a recipe for feeling satiated.
  3. Speaking of satiation, liquid calories simply do not fill us up as well a whole food, due to their lack of fibre, lack of actual chew and ease of consumption.
  4. Drink these beverages and no doubt, even when consumed with a meal, your sugars are heading higher than were you to consume water.
  5. In the real world what ends up happening is that these liquid calories are consumed on top of the rest of the meal not within it, which equates to regularly consuming excess calories and carbohydrates.
While I fully understand why PepsiCo would want everyone (including those with diabetes) to drink large volumes of juices and sport drinks, beyond the desire for advertising dollars, I'm not sure why the CDA seemingly agrees.

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  1. Anonymous8:32 am

    Somebody must be off his rocker! I can merely keep my blood sugars under control with Metformnin and an average of 40 gm of carbs a day. Anybody taking this idiotic advice at face value does not take life seriously.

  2. If the CDA has been formally challenged regarding the justification for garnering nutrition advice from Pepsico, I suspect we readers will all be more than a little intrigued by their response--please post it!
    Alternately, it would also be useful to post exactly who the appropriate contact person is at the CDA, so that we who wish to can also voice our displeasure, in the hope that they can realize that what they are doing is unacceptable.
    Finally, who oversees such an organization? Does either the organization or any of its professional members answer to any college or health professions board? Actions like this deserve more than a public shaming, given that they are ostensibly, supposedly, offering health advice in the public (and not in the corporate) interest.

  3. Anonymous10:01 am

    And sadly the latest client handouts such as Just the Basics, has the Kraft Foods logo displayed prominently at the top. What is going on?

  4. Anonymous10:07 am

    Not so sure about this statemet: "The purpose of Diabetes Quarterly is to publish relevant, practice-based diabetes education information. Reflective of the DES’ collective identity."

  5. Anonymous10:53 am

    At first I thought this would be an ad for diet drinks, which are often recommended to people with diabetes. Product placements like this make me roll my eyes, but they're not out of line with the evidence.

    But juice? Are you kidding me??? In what world would a CDE EVER recommend juice to their clients except for treating a low?

    This is reprehensible. I am an RD and NEVER tell my clients to choose juice, only to limit to 125 ml per day IF they already drink it. Like the author pointed out, it's basically pop with vitamins. I am very disappointed in the CDA.

  6. I wonder how much PepsiCo donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association? Reminds me of when the American Medical Association took tobacco money:

  7. Rebecca11:51 am

    It is the Apocalypse, ushered in by unreined corporatocracy and capitalistic greed. I can only think the people benefitting from this are not worried about losing all their consumers because they themselves don't plan to be around long enough. As for me, I'll stick to a whole-foods, plant-based, unprocessed diet and keep my health, thank you very much!

  8. Yoni was kind enough to publish a guest post by me some time back about another publication CDA put in their Diabetes Communicator. I never got a response to my letter of complaint to the CDA until Yoni posted the letter on his blog. They went into full blown damage control. They sent me an official response. It was so pathetic, sadly I trashed it. It boiled down to this. We need sponsorship dollars, so we take what we can get. I told them that's not good enough. Sure, take sponsorship from Pepsi. But not in the form of biased and untrue advertorials in a publication meant to educate front line diabetes educators. As such, I've chosen not to renew my CDA membership this year and will be writing to them to inform them of my reason.

  9. Anonymous12:51 am

    You know, I agree this form of sponsorship is inappropriate, and the advice is terrible...but I really really wish we could stop saying that fruit juice is "essentially pop". No. It may have as many calories and as much sugar as soda, but it is not soda. You only have to read the label to figure that out. 100% fruit juice may not be a terrific choice for people with diabetes, but assuming it is served in modest portions, it is probably not so bad for the rest of us. I suspect that many a health message has been lost to nonsensical slogans like that one.

    1. Anonymous7:25 pm

      Given the most of us are overweight and obese, calories that offer no satiation, no real nutrition, and probably increase appetite are just junk. Even if it grew from a plant. It is liquid candy, just like fruit chews are gummy candy.

    2. @Anonymous 12:51am

      Assuming you are drinking REAL juice, point well taken,
      however most "juice" is concentrated and over-sweetened
      by adding fruit syrup, which doesn't have to be declared as "added sugar" on the label

      So, if you squeeze your own oranges, or crush your own cider...go nuts...if it comes in a can or bottle, it is now a sugar-enhanced soft drink, not juice....

  10. Yeah, this is the kind of stuff that gives me a love-hate relationship with the CDA....

    To their credit, the information that they actually post in the regular section of their website specifically advises against drinking juice and pop but what they were thinking about a "juice myth", I do not understand....

    Years ago, I used to teach patients to categorize their carb intake as slow, medium and fast in order to reduce their post-prandial peaks... I got several nasty calls from the local CDA office asking me to stop doing this because as a Diabetes Educator, I was supposed to be teaching people the incomprehensible food symbol system instead

    Then, a few years later, they drop the symbol nonsense and come out with the Glycemic Index as the basis for food planning

    apology accepted.... ;-)

    Their cookbooks are just as order to sell them, they fill the books with delicious looking desserts and high carb entrees that have ridiculously small portion sizes that no one will stick to

    Plus, they never make a distinction in their literature between the small minority of patients with Type I diabetes who need normal amounts of carbs to work with their insulin versus the majority of patients with Type II diabetes that need to restrict their calorie intake from simple carbs

    So, disappointed I am, not surprised though....