Dietitians On Social Media Are Gaslighting People Into Believing Cereal Is Healthy, But It Could Be Causing Infertility

Could your favorite comfort food be causing infertility? If so, why is your favorite "health influencer" promoting it?

By Gina Florio4 min read
Pexels/Daria Klet

The United States is facing a serious obesity crisis, with countless individuals suffering from health issues, premature death, and chronic pain as a result. This alarming situation is exacerbated by the failure of public health organizations and medical experts to adequately address the epidemic. Instead of providing accurate health guidance, Americans are often misled with advice to consume processed grains, vegetable oils, and cereals, and to avoid nutrient-rich foods like meat and eggs. This misleading guidance raises legitimate concerns about the true intentions of these health organizations.

Shockingly, recent revelations indicate that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), a significant player in the field, has been compromised by corrupt practices for years.

In a revealing article published by the Washington Post in October 2022, a study titled "The corporate capture of the nutrition profession in the USA: the case of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" was highlighted. This study delved into the academy’s financial transactions, tax documents, and internal communications from 2014 to 2020, uncovering its extensive financial entanglements with major junk food corporations. The paper points out that such corporate involvement in health policy and research is a key factor driving the surge in non-communicable diseases. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, representing over 112,000 nutrition and dietetics professionals, has been shown to have a history of financial dependency on the food industry, accepting substantial sums from companies specializing in seed oils, junk food, sugar, artificial meat, sodas, and more. Between 2011 and 2017, these corporations, including big names like Hershey, Kellogg's, General Mills, Nestle, PepsiCo, and Abbott Nutrition, contributed at least $15 million to the academy.

The problematic nature of these relationships was highlighted in a 2015 email from an AND employee, describing a sponsorship as a financial transaction in exchange for specific rights and benefits from the academy. In addition to these sponsorships, the AND also invested in food industry stocks, holding over $1 million in shares of Nestle, J.M. Smucker, and PepsiCo between 2015 and 2016.

While there are many commendable and independent dietitians who prioritize nutrition, science, and their clients' well-being, the funding sources of these health organizations are questionable at best, and we can’t deny the fact that these organizations have a huge influence on many registered dietitians.

Cereal Is Proven To Be Unhealthy, So Why Do Dietitians Promote It?

A recent study by Consumer Reports, a non-profit advocacy group, has revealed alarming levels of plastic chemicals in a wide array of popular grocery items, including well-known products like Cheerios, Coca-Cola, and Gerber cereals. The investigation involved testing 85 food products available in supermarkets and fast-food chains, where 84 were found to contain varying levels of plastic chemicals, known as phthalates.

Phthalates, often introduced into food through packaging materials, are associated with serious health risks such as cancer, infertility, birth defects, obesity, and other significant health issues. The findings have prompted Consumer Reports to urge federal authorities to prohibit the use of these harmful chemicals.

Among the products with the highest detected levels of plasticizers were Yoplait’s Original Low Fat French Vanilla yogurt, Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, Wendy’s crispy chicken nuggets, Burger King’s Whopper, General Mills’ original Cheerios, Perdue ground chicken breast, and Del Monte sliced peaches. Despite these elevated levels, none of the products surpassed the U.S. regulatory limits for unsafe plastic content. However, experts argue that any presence of plastics in food can pose a risk.

Phthalates can infiltrate food products during processing through plastic materials used in tubing, conveyor belts, and gloves.

The report also highlights that previous efforts to minimize consumer exposure to plastics primarily focused on packaging. New insights reveal that phthalates can infiltrate food products during processing through plastic materials used in tubing, conveyor belts, and gloves, and can even contaminate meat and produce through water and soil.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted a second series of tests that detected the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, glyphosate, in every sample of popular oat-based cereals and other oat-based foods marketed to children. This discovery contradicts the claims of two major companies, Quaker and General Mills, who have maintained that their products are safe as they meet legal standards.

The EWG's tests, however, found that nearly all the samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider safe for children, even though these levels did not exceed U.S. regulatory limits. The results are concerning, especially in light of a significant study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which found a substantial reduction in cancer risk among individuals consuming a lot of organic food.

Testing conducted by Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco revealed glyphosate in all 28 products made with conventionally grown oats, with 26 of these exceeding EWG’s health benchmark of 160 parts per billion. The tested products included various General Mills’ Cheerios and Quaker brand products from PepsiCo, ranging from instant oatmeal and breakfast cereals to snack bars. Notably, Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal had the highest glyphosate level at 2,837 ppb, nearly 18 times higher than EWG’s benchmark.

Glyphosate, widely used as a herbicide, is classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and is listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a known carcinogen. EWG President Ken Cook raised concerns about the potential risk to children from these products, urging food companies to switch to oats not treated with glyphosate to avoid cancer risks.

Despite all these findings, we see dietitians promoting daily consumption of cereal. Registered dietitian Abbey Sharp, a popular TikToker and YouTuber, recently made a video telling her followers that she is “obsessed with cereal” and she eats it “every single day.” She then proceeded to give her viewers tips on how to choose from an array of cereal brands, such as Cheerios. 

Another popular registered dietitian Steph Grasso (who was caught being paid off by junk food companies) posted a video claiming that Cheerios cereal was so healthy that it's like a multivitamin. At first, it seems like parody, but she is dead serious. 

Sharp and Grasso are certainly not the only ones who push cereal to their followers. There are countless dietitians on social media who are doing the same, while intentionally ignoring all of the downsides and negative effects that processed grains (particularly daily consumption of them) can have on our health. 

Dietitians Have Been Caught Promoting Unhealthy Food in the Past

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued warnings to two food and beverage industry groups and several social media influencers for failing to disclose paid promotions of an artificial sweetener and other sugary products, according to the Associated Press. Influencers, particularly dietitians on TikTok and Instagram, were hired by the American Beverage Association to endorse these products without proper disclosure.

Following the FTC's updated guidelines, which mandate clear disclosure of paid social media promotions by influencers, these warnings were issued. William M. Dermody Jr., a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association, assured the AP of the group's transparency regarding its collaboration with dietitians who communicated the scientific backing and FDA approval of aspartame's safety. Dermody emphasized the organization's commitment to continue disclosing relationships with dietitians and to align with FTC's transparency guidelines for consumer protection.

The food and beverage industry paid numerous influencer dietitians to disseminate misleading information about aspartame.

However, a Washington Post investigation uncovered that the food and beverage industry paid numerous influencer dietitians to disseminate misleading information about aspartame, countering World Health Organization (WHO) warnings about its ineffectiveness for weight loss and potential carcinogenic properties. These influencers reached an audience of over 11 million, downplaying the WHO's concerns as sensational and unfounded.

Aspartame, a common ingredient in about 6,000 products, including sugar-free sodas and diet foods, is a sweetener about 200 times sweeter than sugar but low in calories. Despite its widespread use, health authorities recommend a daily intake limit due to potential cancer risks.

Nutritionist Rebecca Heald expressed concern over dietitians spreading misinformation about aspartame's safety, emphasizing the need for dietitians to base their advice on credible scientific evidence. Heald pointed out that social media often amplifies sensational and unverified claims, contributing to confusion about aspartame's health risks.

Closing Thoughts

Not every single dietitian out there is compromised and gives unsound advice to their audience, but there are many that should be approached with caution – and they should always be held accountable for the information they share online. 

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