Is 'Big Food's' Big Money Influencing the Science of Nutrition?

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American Beverage Association Calls Allegations Baseless

The American Dietetic Association took money from Hershey to collaborate on a "Moderation Nation" website, to reach millions with a healthy-eating message, they said. Some obesity experts were appalled that it included recipes such as "Fudgey Fruit Pizza" and "Crispy Chocolate Ice Cream Mud Pie," which has 14 teaspoons of sugar in each slice.

In a statement, the ADA defended the program, saying that website helped deliver healthy eating messages to a wider consumer audience than it otherwise could.

"Our 'total diet' approach follows the new USA MyPlate, with a focus on the role of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein choices and whole grains," the statement said. "When individual consumers choose wisely 80 to 90 percent of the time, they can also include an occasional treat."

Representatives from the food industry, including the American Beverage Association, said the notion that industry money taints the scientific research is "baseless."

As for Allison, although he has received tens of millions of dollars in research grants from the government, he has also received at least $2.5 million in research grants from private industry, ABC News has learned.

The $2.5 million doesn't include any consulting or speaking fees he has received from industry or any money he has received from Coke, Pepsi, or the American Beverage Association.

His employer, the University of Alabama, said some of his research contradicts the interests of his corporate sponsors.

Allison turned down ABC News' repeated requests for an interview. When ABC News confronted him early one morning at a convention in Washington D.C., he had no comment when asked if he was a "hired gun" for the food industry.

He has said that he is happy to be involved in the pursuit of truth and, sometimes, amid that pursuit, he might help the government or groups such as the restaurant industry.

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