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Rachel Novotny
Carol Boushey

Nutritional epidemiologists Rachel Novotny of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, and Carol Boushey, of the UH Cancer Center, are two of only 20 nationally recognized scientists on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) independent advisory committee which published the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

The report is an in-depth review of the latest available science on specific nutrition topics. The report’s findings will help to shape the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will provide hundreds of millions of Americans—and nutritionists around the world—with recommendations on what to eat and drink to promote health  and prevent chronic disease. An ongoing open public comment period for written comments on the report began on July 15, 2020, and will remain open until August 13, 2020, 11:59 p.m., Eastern time.

“The Dietary Guidelines translate current science into food and beverage intake guidance for the U.S. population, which is used as the basis for key federal food-assistance programs such as the School Breakfast and Lunch Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps),” explained Novotny.

“I chaired the Dietary Patterns Sub-Committee, which reviewed the relationship between dietary patterns and all-cause mortality for the first time,” said Boushey, who is also a registered dietitian. “The results, informed by data from Hawaiʻi and around the world, show a reduced risk of all-cause mortality when food patterns are primarily comprised of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, unsaturated vegetable oils, fish and lean meat or poultry.”

Novotny added, “What’s interesting is that the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines are the first to include the whole life span, including 0–2 years of age, and to focus on patterns of food and beverage intake.”

The guidelines, co-developed by USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are the cornerstone of U.S. nutrition programs and policies, so the work of the advisory committee has far-reaching implications for years to come. The goal is to release the Dietary Guidelines by the end of 2020.

The committee’s work was informed by more than 62,000 public comments, a marker of USDA and HHS’s commitment to public involvement in the dietary guidelines process. In addition to co-developing the guidelines, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition-assistance programs to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat.

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