RIT Nutrition Graduates Advise Americans on Healthy Eating Habits




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Two alumni of Rochester Institute of Technology want to tell you something your mother has known all along: Eat your vegetables!

Penny Kris-Etherton, a 1971 RIT graduate, and Theresa Nicklas, who graduated in 1979, are among five members of the American Dietetic Association who advised the U.S. government on healthy eating habits while serving on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee's recommendations are included in the just-released 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

Kris-Etherton, currently Distinguished Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State University, served as chair of the fatty-acid subcommittee and on the alcohol subcommittee.

“We used a rigorous science-based approach related to recommendations for specific nutrients and foods,” she says. “We considered all ages over 2 years.”

After graduating from RIT, Kris-Etherton earned master's and doctoral degrees in nutrition.

“I have fond memories of RIT and the valuable experiences I gained,” she says. “RIT provided me with a sound knowledge base in nutrition and dietetics.” Kris-Etherton is originally from Amsterdam, N.Y.

Nicklas, currently a professor of pediatrics in the Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, provided expertise on children's nutrition to the nutrient adequacy and fatty-acid subcommittees of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

“Every time the committee started talking about adult recommendations, I would interject by saying, 'What about the children?'” explains Nicklas, who, after graduating from RIT, earned a master's degree and a Ph.D., both in public health. “RIT provided me with an excellent foundation in nutrition.” Nicklas is originally from Long Island.

The new guidelines place greater emphasis on “total diet” and the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains—foods naturally high in nutrients and low in calories. A healthy-eating philosophy is stressed through 41 scientifically based dietary recommendations aiming to reduce the risk for major chronic diseases. Keys to healthy living, according to the experts, include eating a variety of foods in moderation, watching portion sizes and engaging in regular physical activity.

The guidelines, revised every five years, set the nation's policy direction in nutrition programs, research, education, food assistance, labeling and promotion. The agriculture department is expected to unveil a revised “food pyramid” this spring. For more information on the new guidelines, visit http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.

And, remember to eat your fruits, vegetables and whole grains—two RIT graduates say so!