Cornell expert leading effort to establish nutrition guidelines
By Galib Braschler
Cornell nutrition expert Angela Odoms-Young will serve as the vice chair of the national 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which will review scientific evidence regarding federal nutrition programs and policies and provide nutritional guidelines for all Americans. The committee’s first meeting was held Feb. 9-10.
“I am honored and humbled to serve as a member of the DGAC advisory committee,” said Odoms-Young, an associate professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, housed in both the College of Human Ecology and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The guidelines are an important resource for policymakers, health care providers and nutrition educators, and are the cornerstone of our Federal Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs, which help alleviate food and nutrition insecurity.
“This is very exciting for me because most of my research has focused on how equitable environments, systems and policies can contribute to improvements in dietary behaviors, positively impact population health and reduce health disparities,” Odoms-Young said.
Composed of 20 nationally recognized scientific experts, the independent committee will review the scientific evidence on nutritional and public health across all life stages and will use a health equity lens to ensure socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity and culture are considered to the greatest extent possible, as reflected in the scientific literature and data.
The committee’s work will culminate in a scientific report for the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to consider, along with public and agency comments, as the departments develop the 10th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are updated every five years and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs and policies, providing food-based recommendations to help prevent diet-related chronic diseases and promote overall health.
Odoms-Young’s experience in addressing health disparities through community-based nutrition education and intervention services will complement the technical expertise needed to revise and reissue the next set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans with a greater focus on addressing health inequities faced by communities of color.
“We are proud to have Angela Odoms-Young represent the college on this critical national committee that will establish guidelines to improve the health and well-being of all Americans, especially those who are most vulnerable,” said Rachel Dunifon, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology. “These guidelines will help pave the way for more equitable approaches to nutrition.”
Odoms-Young’s research explores the social and structural determinants of dietary behaviors and related health outcomes in low-income populations with a particular focus on African American, Hispanic and Indigenous communities. Her work also centers on developing culturally responsive programs and policies that promote health equity, food justice and community resilience. More specifically, she focuses on understanding the root causes and complexities of dietary behavior, particularly in relationship to reducing chronic disease and improving overall health through nutrition in communities of color.
Odoms-Young has contributed to the development of science-informed, community-based intervention approaches to understand the diverse factors that influence food choice behaviors in low-income populations. She applies this knowledge directly through her engagement, as she oversees federally funded nutrition education programs in 23 New York counties for both underserved youth and adults in geographically diverse urban and rural areas.
“Diet-related diseases are on the rise across all age groups, and we must rise to the challenge by providing nutrition guidance that people from all walks of life can tailor to meet their needs,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are fortunate to have a committee of nutrition experts who will provide science-driven recommendations with health equity in mind. I am confident this committee will provide our Departments with evidence-based recommendations that help all Americans achieve better nutrition and health.”
There are multiple opportunities for public participation before, during and after the committee’s review of the evidence. The public is encouraged to electronically submit written comments to the committee on topics relevant to its work at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.
Galib Braschler is a communications specialist in the College of Human Ecology.