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A Nutritionist’s School of Thought

Carol Berg Sloan, RDN

I recently went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was spectacular, with a million gallon shark tank, kelp beds, and several smaller tanks. These smaller tanks were filled with sardines swimming in “schools” with perfect synchronicity. Whether this was for protection, temperature control or a genetic trait, I found it fascinating how they traveled as a group, literally following each other blindly.

As a clinician, I of course compared this phenomenon to humans and how we also like to congregate and “follow the leader”. To connect the dots back to nutrition and health, many times consumers will listen and then follow the advice of a few, without investigation or scientific reasoning. A timely example is the issue of soda taxes or “sin” taxes.

A vocal minority push forth the initiative of taxing soda with the supposed good intention of health benefits (reducing obesity) down the road. Unfortunately extenuating factors aren’t taken into consideration on the impact of such a tax. How will it affect small business, families and communities? Who will really benefit? Where will collected taxes go? Will these taxes really make a difference on health? Recent research has revealed that these taxes won’t impact consumer health, will hurt businesses, and are actually detrimental to communities when consumers will shop elsewhere.

The American public is thirsty (pun intended!) for nutrition education and they want to make informed decisions on what they eat and drink. Who doesn’t?  Let’s provide them with this knowledge utilizing programs such as Mixify or Clear on Calories. We forget what was shared by the great Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”  Let’s educate, not regulate, consumers so they can make decisions based on science and rationale not hype and personal agendas. My goal is for families to take the lead, not “follow”.

 

Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and as a member of the Academy Positions Committee and Finance and Audit Committee.


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