The Los Angeles Unified School district promoted a video to encourage childhood obesity last week featuring a nutritionist who represents the processed food industry, according to the L.A. Parents Union.
The video, apparently published on the Human Relations page of the district’s Instagram account, aims to dismiss the idea of “bad” food no matter its nutritional value as “based on a false standard of ‘health.'” The clip, which no longer appears posted, begins with a woman offered a plate of iced donuts who recoils at their presentation.
“Those are so bad for you,” she claims, as her friend suggesting the sugary snack appears perplexed at the reaction.
“Oh no! Are they moldy? I mean, are they poisoned? Are you allergic?” the presenter asks while holding up the plate of dough and sprinkles. “Hm, you’re judging my food choices based on a false standard of health again, aren’t you.”
The conversation is followed by Kéra Nyemb-Diop, whom the video identified as the “Black Nutritionist,” encouraging students to abandon conventional standards of “good” and “bad choices.”
“Diet culture, fatphobia, and systems of oppression have created false hierarchies of food and show up everywhere,” says Nyemb-Diop. “Remember that you do not need to ‘earn’ food… Eat without guilt, regardless of what society says.”
According to Nyemb-Diop’s LinkedIn page, the nutritionist has been a “senior scientist” with Mondelēz International for nearly six years. Mondelēz International is a Chicago-based snack food company behind dozens of processed brands especially popular with children, including Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Honey Maid, and Sour Patch Kids.
Contrary to the alleged nutritionist’s corporatized claims, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which L.A. schools adhered to as gospel during lockdowns, encourages individuals to “add an array of colors to your plate and think of it as eating the rainbow.”
“Dark, leafy greens, oranges, and tomatoes—even fresh herbs—are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals,” the CDC website reads. “Adding frozen peppers, broccoli, or onions to stews and omelets gives them a quick and convenient boost of color and nutrients.”
The website also posted an outline of the dietary guidelines for 2020-2025 which:
Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
Includes a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, nuts, and seeds.
Is low in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.
Stays within your daily calorie needs.
One individual snack pack of Oreo cookies contains 33 grams of sugar, or, more than 30 percent beyond the recommended maximum daily intake set by the American Heart Association.
Data from the CDC shows America continuing to fail in its effort against childhood obesity more than 10 years after the launch of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. The public health agency says about 1 in 5 American children are categorically obese. According to State of Childhood Obesity, about 15 percent of California youth aged 10 to 17 are considered medically obese.
Recalibrating nutritional standards to erase notions of “bad food” not only sets children up for a lifetime weighed down by unhealthy eating habits, but it’s also anti-science. In the clip promoted by the Los Angeles school district, a pro-fat commentator labeled “SavageXFatty” claims “the only foods that are bad for you are foods that contain allergens, poisons, or contaminants. Or, food that is spoiled, or it otherwise inedible.”
Excess sugar, however, such as that found in just one package of Nyemb-Diop-promoted Oreos, is itself a “poison,” according to University of California San Francisco obesity expert Robert Lustig in 2009. Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, outlined the latest research on the consequences of ingesting too much sugar in the Harvard Medical Journal in January.
“Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease,” Hu said. “The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.”