College of Public Health professor Jennifer Orlet Fisher has been selected to serve on the federal advisory committee helping to develop the next set of nutritional guidelines for Americans, to be issued in 2025. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated every five years, shape federal food programs, consumer education and food labeling.
“The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy,” says Fisher, professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and associate director of Temple’s Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE), where she directs the Family Eating Laboratory.
Twenty experts in nutrition and health from universities nationwide have been named to the committee, which will evaluate the latest science and deliver a report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Fisher brings to the advisory committee expertise in how early eating environments influence child behavioral controls of food intake and health outcomes, particularly overweight and obesity. In 2021, Fisher separately co-chaired the national Healthy Eating Research (HER) panel, a program that published science-backed guidelines to help parents and caregivers instill healthy eating behaviors among children ages 2 to 8.
The work undertaken by Fisher and other scientific advisory committee members will inform the development of the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2020-2025 version summarizes current knowledge about foods and their links to health and provides eating recommendations for every life stage, from birth through older adulthood.
“The scientific advisory committee uses a systematic process to summarize the most current knowledge of relationships between diet and health outcomes,” Fisher explains. “The results will be used by the USDA to develop key dietary recommendations for health professionals and policy makers on promoting health and preventing chronic disease."
The guidelines serve multiple functions. They inform federal policies and programs such as the national school lunch and breakfast programs, the WIC program for women, infants, and children at nutritional risk, as well as the SNAP program that provides food purchase benefits for individuals and families with low incomes. They also provide direction for nutrition surveillance and monitoring efforts and help identify priorities for federal research funding. The guidelines are also used by health professionals in practice. The food industry draws from the dietary guidelines to make decisions about product development and reformulation.
While the advisory committee doesn’t work directly with consumer-facing nutrition education tools such as the famous “food pyramid,” (which since 2011 has been replaced by the simpler graphic device of a partitioned plate and the website MyPlate.gov), the findings provide the scientific basis for these and other consumer communications about nutrition.
"It is a tremendous honor and responsibility to participate in this process because we know that diet plays an incredibly important role in lifelong health and the prevention of chronic disease,” Fisher says. “Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality, diabetes affects more than 10% of the US population, and obesity rates have tripled in recent decades—all are centrally influenced by diet.”