Mayer-Davis selected as member of 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

February 21, 2019

To ensure that America’s dietary guidance reflects the latest science, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced on Feb. 21 the appointment of 20 nationally recognized scientists to serve on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Dr. Elizabeth Mayer Davis

Dr. Beth Mayer-Davis

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and chair of nutrition at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, is one of the appointees. Mayer-Davis also is professor of medicine in UNC’s School of Medicine.

The independent advisory committee will review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by the departments of HHS and agriculture and will provide a report on their findings to the secretaries. Their review, along with public and agency comments, will help inform USDA and HHS’ development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“USDA is committed to ensuring everything we do is data-driven and based in scientific facts, which is why this expert committee’s work in objectively evaluating the science is of the utmost importance to the departments and to this process,” said Secretary Perdue. “The committee will evaluate existing research and develop a report objectively, with an open mind.”

“The scientists we selected to serve on the committee are national leaders in the areas of nutrition and health,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “HHS, USDA and all Americans will benefit from the collective experience and expertise of the committee, which will conduct a rigorous examination of the scientific evidence on several diet-related health outcomes, including the prevention of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are three of the leading causes of death in the United States.”

“It is a tremendous honor and responsibility to serve on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee,” Mayer-Davis said. “Because science evolves, what we thought we knew changes as new science emerges, and our national nutrition policies and programs must be based on the most rigorous science available.  I’m very much looking forward to being part of the process to ensure the solid scientific foundation to inform the 2020 guidelines.”

The list of members appointed to the expert committee can be found here. Additional information is available at

The committee’s work will kick off at a public meeting to be announced in the coming weeks. The committee will review scientific evidence on specific nutrition and health-related topics and scientific questions (PDF) that, for the first time, reflect both public comments and federal agency input. Throughout their deliberations, the public and other stakeholders will be encouraged to provide comments and feedback.

“In our continuing commitment to transparency and customer service, we invite the American public to engage in this process,” said Secretary Perdue. “We want to hear from everyone and all viewpoints.”

The next edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans will continue to focus on dietary patterns of what Americans eat and drink as a whole, on average and over time, to help prevent disease and keep people healthy. The review process also will take a life-stage approach and will, for the first time, include pregnant women and children from birth to 24 months, as mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 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.


Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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