As it was my tradition, in December I rebuild the old favorites from years gone by. This year I'm looking into 2015.
For those of you who do not know, the Society of Obesity (TOS) is, according to them,
"North America's leading scientific organization dedicated to understanding obesity"
And I wholeheartedly agree, it is really, that's why I am happy to resign from my membership.
I have participated in the last decade and I make every effort to participate in their annual meeting (known as Obesity Week).
The payment to be a member of a professional organization, at least for me, means that you believe that the mission and methods of the organization are in line with yours and, unfortunately, this is no longer the case with me and TOS.
My concerns started at the beginning of 2013. Then TOS published the document "Guidelines for accepting funds from external sources" (the document is now available on the TOS page but was published by Longwoods when). In this TOS,
"explicitly removes all forms of assessment or judgment of the source of funding"
"TOS chooses to focus its moral mission on transparency in the disclosure of sources of funding, clear formalities underlining our commitment to the moral use of funds and commitment to the non-influence of funding sources on the scientific aspects of funded projects and TOS as a whole."
"TOS should seek funding from as many donors as possible."
Many, including myself, felt that without expressing it, these guidelines were designed as a means to open the door for TOS to seek out and get money from the food industry.
Shortly after, TOS hit the "Business team for the extroversion of the food industry", which seems to have been transformed into"Council of Food Participation", The most recent meeting of which was represented by Kellogg, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Dr. Pepper and Ocean Spray. There is no doubt that TOS meant what he said back in early 2013.
To be clear, I am all about dialogue, discussion and discussion with the food industry, but I just can not support their money, formally collaborate with them on joint projects or give them a vote at the tables. Of course, in these difficult budgetary periods, for public health organizations, the benefits of partnerships in the food industry are funded. But partnerships of course must benefit both parties, and for the food industry, co-operation with health organizations has a lot to offer. Public health partnerships offer the food industry high brand shine, can lead to direct or indirect sales with co-branded brands, can provide worthy emotional brand combinations, silence or soften critical industry or product, to fight unwanted legislative efforts by industry and require the public health team to reduce public health messages that may conflict with the bottom line of the private-Community industries.
It is clearly stated that a public enterprise can not invest in a group, program or intervention that in turn will serve to reduce sales more than it does not involve in the same group, program or intervention. This would not only be an insult to their shareholders, it would be a matter for their lawsuits.
Hopefully I understand that the history of thought will not show kindly to these partnerships that public health efforts will not hinder them and that, on the contrary, I will look back one day and I think I made a lot of mistakes for nothing but until then, while I will continue to see you in Obesity Week, that's why I will no longer be athletic "Member of TOS"ribbon on my mark.