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In Films About Food and Nutrition Why Aren't Dietitians Part of the Conversation


Watching "foodie" documentaries stir up the conversation about food and nutrition. But the one thing they all fail to do is mention Registered Dietitians (aka Registered Dietitian Nutritionists). So my response to Fed Up is this;

in films about food and nutrition why aren't Registered Dietitians part of the conversation?

There are zero interviews with Dietitians

Who gets interviewed in Fed Up? Obesity researchers do, and so does Bill Clinton, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Margo Wootan, and food company representatives. Don't get me wrong, they are all important players in creating healthy environments but none of them are trained to assess patients, identify what behaviors are causing their weight gain, and help them identify goals to lose the weight the way a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is.

So, while the editors frame the narrative that "sugar = obesity" by editing out snippets of the interviews with non-RDNs I'm sitting there wondering "Where are the dietitians?".

The Doctor says "Go to Weight Watchers"

One of the first jaw-dropping moments to me was about 5 minutes into the documentary. No, it wasn't the excess portions of food I saw or the number of snacks. It was when the Doctor recommended Weight Watchers to an 8-year-old...

REALLY?! That's the doc's advice? Of course WW wouldn't see an 8-year old child with obesity. Although it's one of the more respected diet programs out there, WW is still a diet and research shows that diets don't work long-term. Again, this is really making an example of how RDs are so poorly represented in public health and why we need to start fighting for our patients and ourselves.

This is as much of an issue for the patient as it is for RDs (and RD2Be's) because not only are the patients not getting the expert help that they need, RDs are losing their reputation as the experts. Fed Up blames sugar, Forks Over Knives blames meat/dairy, The Grain-Free train blames, well, grains. The result? Mass confusion, mis-information, distrust, and food companies come out with marketing schemes based on those trends. You know what I'm referring to here:

Michael Pollan briefly touched on this in the documentary and I agreed with most of what he said. However, aside from that the key issue here is that people who are suffering from overweight or obesity -regardless of the cause-need expert advice and Fed Up isn't sending that message. All that the editors are doing is blaming a nutrient, in this case sugar. This is their not-so brilliant answer:

Haven't we learned by now that eliminating a nutrient is not going to solve the obesity epidemic? If anything, it sends message to those who are already too focused on their intake that it leads to disordered eating.

It's time to fight the good fight

With all that said, it's time to address the biggest issue and that is, in my opinion, that Doctors need to start referring patients to RDs before prescribing diet centers and definitely BEFORE their patients get in such delicate condition that surgery really does seem like the best treatment.

We also must not overlook that it's an excess of calories, mostly from big portion sizes, that lead to weight gain. No single nutrient deserves to be a scapegoat.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists need to fight the good fight so that we're on the forefront of people's mind when it comes to managing the overweight and obesity epidemic and nutrition.

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