Andy Bellatti, a dietitian and member of AND, recalls his shock the first time he attended the organization’s national conference, in 2008. “I could get continuing education credits for literally sitting in a room and listening to Frito-Lay tell me that Sun Chips are a good way to meet my fiber needs,” he says. “I thought, ‘No wonder Americans are overweight and diabetic. The gatekeepers for our information about food are getting their information from junk-food companies.’”
Bellatti took photos of the displays in the exhibition hall and posted them on his blog. The post started a conversation among academy members, many of whom were outraged when they learned about the sponsorships. They worried that if word got out that dietitians’ professional organization had been bought out by food corporations, the profession would lose credibility. So Bellatti and several other members founded Dietitians for Professional Integrity, consisting of academy members who want to change the sponsorship policies. They lobbied the leadership, but nothing changed—except for the rules about photography at the annual conference. The following year, when Bellatti took out his camera in the exhibition hall, he was told that photographs were prohibited.