Hoelscher appointed to serve on national committee to advise the development of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Published: January 29, 2023

Deanna Hoelscher, PhD, John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion and campus dean of UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in Austin, has been appointed to the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The Committee will be tasked with reviewing the current body of science on key nutrition topics and developing a scientific report that includes its independent assessment of the evidence and recommendations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration as they develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (the Guidelines).

“This committee appointment is a great honor,” Hoelscher said. “It reflects the body of work we’ve built at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, particularly our focus on behavioral and epidemiologic studies related to diet and health.”

Hoelscher, one of the select few scientific and nutrition experts appointed to the national committee, has built her career on teaching children and their families to engage in healthier behaviors to avoid the development of chronic diseases, with an emphasis on low-income, diverse populations.

Originally developed in 1980 by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services and revised every five years, the Guidelines have evolved since inception. Once the newly appointed committee has compiled their recommendations based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence, HHS and the Federal Government will create and publish the Guidelines.

“The committee will compile a report emphasizing the translation of dietary advice into behaviors in which people can engage, and will strive to make dietary advice more inclusive and equitable in terms of life stage, socioeconomic status, and cultural or racial/ethnic background,” Hoelscher said. “It’s one thing to say ‘eat your fruits and vegetables,’ but we need to go beyond that and provide effective strategies on how to make that change.”

The first edition was based, in part, on the 1979 Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the findings from a task force convened by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, which reviewed the evidence relating six dietary factors to the nation’s health. Since the first edition was published, the reports have remained notably consistent, though as science evolves so does the need to maintain updated resources. While there is still a primary focus on chronic disease prevention, recent reports have changed to reflect current scientific knowledge, as well as to better address health disparities within populations. Hoelscher noted another recent shift for this upcoming report that will identify dietary guidelines for those at different life stages. The updates will also incorporate how cultural preferences can play a role in overall health. “The report will work to address health disparities while promoting diverse dietary patterns,” Hoelscher said.

Created for a professional audience, the Dietary Guidelines are most often utilized by policymakers, health care providers, nutrition educators, and federal nutrition program operators. Each report revision includes collaborative efforts from three primary sources: 1 - the appointed scientific committee members, 2 - the general public who are encouraged to contribute written and oral input during public meetings, and 3 - the federal government.

“The creation of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines is an open process that includes many sources of input,” says Hoelscher. “The scientific nutrition community closely follows the development and dissemination of the Dietary Guidelines as they guide the development and implementation of federal nutrition programs, so this committee will be a great experience and opportunity to contribute to the health of the nation.”

The first public meeting will be open for the public to view virtually via live webcast. Additional information, including meeting details and how to submit public comments, are available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

The most recent report, published in 2020, provides guidance up until 2025. Hoelscher and the committee will focus on providing recommendations for the 2025 – 2030 Guidelines, set to be published sometime in 2025.