University professor joins Dietary Guideline Advisory committee

Professor Sharon Donovan, the Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health at the University, has been appointed as one of 20 nationally recognized scientists to serve on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and Alex Azar, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, announced the appointments on Feb. 21.

This independent advisory committee is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the latest scientific research in the areas of nutrition and health. The committee will then put together a report from the findings to the secretaries, which will help in the development of the 2020 to 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The guidelines are updated every five years and serve to guide national nutrition programs and federal policies to improve the overall health of the country.

The committee will focus on dietary patterns of Americans as well as attempt to prevent diet-related diseases and health outcomes such as cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, three of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

For the first time, the review process and report will include pregnant women and children from birth to 24 months.

Donovan’s research covers pediatric nutrition as well as development of the gut microbiome and childhood obesity prevention. Her laboratory conducts research in the area of pediatric nutrition, and her research may be used in the report.

“During this phase of life, proper nutrition is of key importance for growth, development and long-term functional outcomes, such as cognition and immune response,” Donovan said.

Donovan said the ongoing work in her lab is focusing on optimizing intestinal and cognitive development of neonates, development of the gut microbiome and prevention of obesity and picky eating in children.

Public comments and feedback are encouraged for this advisory committee.

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