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USDA taps FIU professor to develop new dietary guidelines for Americans

USDA taps FIU professor to develop new dietary guidelines for Americans

The work of Cristina Palacios, chair of dietetics and nutrition, will impact the lives of millions looking to improve and maintain health

January 24, 2023 at 3:50pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) selected Cristina Palacios, chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, to serve on the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee will advise USDA and HHS on the development of guidelines that form the basis for federal nutrition policy and programs, nutrition education efforts, and health promotion and disease prevention initiatives.

USDA-HHS releases its Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years to educate policymakers and nutrition and health professionals on how to help individuals and their families consume a healthy and nutritious diet.

“We will see the positive impact of this committee not only in the U.S. but also around the world, as many countries, due to limited resources, look to the U.S. to prepare their own dietary guidelines,” said Palacios. “These dietary guidelines are for everyone. Here in the U.S., they will impact all diet-related programs, including the types of foods served from daycare centers to school cafeterias, even those served in nursing homes.”

Palacios, originally from Venezuela, brings with her expertise on the dietary patterns of various Hispanic populations. She is one of 20 nationally recognized nutrition and public health experts tasked with examining the relationship between diet and health across all ages. The goal is to ensure the new guidelines are relevant to people with diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

“The recent White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health underscored the need to understand the science of nutrition and the role that social structures play when it comes to people eating healthy food,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release. “The advisory committee’s work will play an instrumental role in that effort, and in helping HHS and USDA improve the health and well-being of all Americans.”

Palacios began her tenure as chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition this past year. Along with leading the department, she is the principal investigator for the MetA-Bone trial, an NIH-sponsored nutrition research study that aims to help children grow strong and healthy bones.

For over two decades, Palacios has focused her research on obesity prevention, studying the role of diet and physical activity in Hispanic infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women. As a result, she’s had  experience developing various dietary guidelines and recommendations for the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization. She is an active member of the American Society of Nutrition.

“Our FIU is the leading Hispanic-serving institution in the U.S., and having Cristina Palacios be a voice for the Hispanic community on this committee will truly make a difference in the lives of many,” said Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College. “We are incredibly proud of her contributions to the health and well-being of people in our community, nationally, and around the world.”