Have you seen Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty? Their message is a great one- it challenges the beauty ideals set by society and shows that beauty comes in different shapes, sizes and ages.
But critics point out that the campaign is used to sell products- including firming and anti-aging creams. So really, Dove's just upholding the beauty ideals that they claim to be against....
Dove's parent company, Unilever, also owns Axe- a male hygiene product line. Axe ads don't really use "real women"...
But, does this take away from the Real Beauty Campaign message?
Glamour magazine got quite a bit of attention for featuring an untouched (gasp!) photograph of a "plus-sized model". Other magazines have since followed suit, leading us to wonder what their motivation really is...
But even if their motivation is the bottom line ($$), does it matter if what they're doing is positive?
Now what about if a health agency, like Dietitians of Canada or the American Dietetic Association- organizations that represent dietitians and provide evidence-based nutrition information to the public- were funded by food industry?
Does their message lose its credibility? Do dietitians lose their credibility?
I'm not a member of Dietitians of Canada (DC) (it's not mandatory), but I know that members receive a large amount of industry-sponsored stuff, including from dairy, beef, and egg producers, etc etc. Some of their resources are also sponsored...
I was asked to help organize a career day at my university for dietetic interns a few months ago, but turned it down after learning that the event was entirely funded by big food industry companies (the majority of the speakers represented these companies too). It just made me uncomfortable...
Some dietitians I spoke to brought up the point that that many universities are funded by industry (tobacco, oil, etc)... but this fact doesn't invalidate our education...
They also said that a lot of good work can be done within industry... that the work is not necessarily affected by the funding.
Marion Nestle, a very well-respected dietitian, author and professor, called out the American Dietetic Association (ADA) for their associations with industry (which include Coca-Cola and Pepsi!), stating that it does taint their message.
This is a letter she wrote on her blog to ADA members.
"Respected ADA colleagues: as long as your organization partners with makers of food and beverage products, its opinions about diet and health will never be believed independent (translation: based on science not politics) and neither will yours. Consider the ADA’s Nutrition Fact Sheets, for example, each with its very own corporate sponsor (scroll down to the lower right hand corner of the second page to see who paid for the Facts). Is the goal of ADA really the same as the goal of the sponsors–to sell the sponsor’s food products? Is this a good way to get important scientific messages to the public? ADA members: how about doing something about this!"
Click here for part of the ADA's response which basically states that they don't have a lot of money and corporate funding allows them provide members and the public with educational programs.
What do you think?
Can you trust resources (including the food guide) or messages that come from an organization that's funded by certain food industries?
If you're a dietitian, how do you feel about the organizations that represent you partnering with food industry?
(Of course, the dietetic profession isn't the only organization that receives corporate sponsorship- think of the medial profession receiving money from pharmaceutical companies... even the Olympics are sponsored by McDonald's and Coca-Cola...).