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Ohio State dean named to federal dietary guidelines advisory committee

Cheryl Achterberg is one of only 13 experts who will advise the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services about proper nutrition Americans need to stay healthy and fit.

Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology, was sworn in Friday, Oct. 31, at the first meeting of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, made up of prominent medical and scientific researchers.

The committee will advise Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt on any nutritional and dietary revisions necessary to the existing Dietary Guidelines.

"The Dietary Guidelines are of particular importance to nutrition education of the general public and in strengthening the nation's food assistance programs, which include SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), and the School Lunch and WIC programs," Schafer said.

Leavitt added, "While the Dietary Guidelines are designed for a healthy population, they become increasingly important as we aim to reduce the burden of disease and death related to public health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses."

"The Dietary Guidelines are the primary policy tool for nutrition education in U.S. schools, communities and the public health system," said Achterberg. "They are also key to setting the standard for calculating poverty in the U.S. and serve as a benchmark around the world for translating science to the public. It is a high honor to serve both my discipline and the public on this committee."

Achterberg has evaluated the impact of behavior on the dietary patterns of populations, including low-income and elderly Americans. She has served on panels for numerous groups, including the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, and the United Nations as an expert in nutrition education and community interventions.

Remaining committee members were selected for their expertise in dietary intake, human metabolism, behavioral change and health.

The dietary recommendations are revised only every five years. The new committee members will make a report based on scientific literature, public comment and deliberation in open forums. All meetings are open to the public, and all meeting minutes and transcripts will be posted on-line at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.