Nestle, AAP Partnership half-baked
Would the American Cancer Society sign on a tobacco giant to fund a prevention campaign? Or would the American Diabetes Association get in bed with Krispy Kreme? Until this week, I thought not, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has teamed up with Nestle — makers of Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and Haagen-Dazs — to battle childhood obesity.
Would that this were an April Fool’s joke. PhD in Parenting broke the news earlier this week, linking to an announcement on the AAP web site about the Health Active Living for Families (HALF) initiative. In an open letter to the AAP, Birthing Beautiful Ideas outlines the many, many ways that Nestle’s marketing of both infant formula and processed baby food directly contradict the AAP’s stated policies and goals for infant and young child feeding.
What’s more, this partnership violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Council of Medical Specialty Society’s Code for Interactions with Companies. The Code outlines ethical guidelines designed to avoid a conflict of interest between Medical Societies, such as the AAP, and for-profit companies that may support their programs:
We adopt this Code to reinforce the core principles that help us maintain actual and perceived independence. Adopting this Code helps to ensure that a Society’s interactions with Companies will be for the benefit of patients and members and for the improvement of care in our respective specialty fields. (Emphasis added)
Of note, the code explicitly prohibits direct support from a company in developing a guideline for clinical practice:
7.3. Societies will not permit direct Company support of the development of Clinical Practice Guidelines or Guideline Updates.
The AAP has signed onto the code, and, best I can tell, Nestle is a Company. So why is the Nestle Nutrition Institute funding development of a comprehensive program to educate parents and children about nutrition?
The AAP should not be taking money for an anti-obesity project from an institute whose parent company sells candy and ice cream — and hawks flawed advice designed to undermine breastfeeding mothers.
If the AAP is really “dedicated to the health of all children,” they should send that check back to Nestle and start over. American families deserve nothing less.
Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, is a maternal-fetal medicine physician, breastfeeding researcher, and assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She is a member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
Posts on this blog reflect the opinions of individual ABM members, not the organization as a whole.