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May 30, 2024

MSU professor selected for World Health Organization committee to set dietary guidelines

Felicia Wu, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor and University Distinguished Professor in Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was selected to serve on the World Health Organization’s, or WHO’s, Risk-Benefit Assessment Technical Group to make recommendations on dietary guidelines.

Specifically, this international committee will evaluate risks and benefits of dietary constituents, such as animal-source foods and plant-based foods, for how they affect malnutrition and noncommunicable diseases in populations worldwide.

Headshot of Felicia Wu.
Felicia Wu is a professor in MSU's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Courtesy photo.

Wu, who is a faculty member in the departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, was encouraged by the WHO to apply to serve on the committee. Currently, she serves on the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, an international committee jointly administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and WHO.

“I am so honored to have the chance to serve on the WHO dietary guidelines committee, which will set global dietary guidelines based on evidence of foods and nutrients contributing to optimal health versus chronic disease,” Wu said. “This work is important because we will focus on the needs of diverse populations all over the world, including resource-poor populations where animal-source foods may be difficult to obtain regularly. Specifically, this has implications for maternal and child nutrition, the very young and the elderly, and differences in needs worldwide.”

The committee is expected to take two to three years to produce the recommendations, with several in-person meetings to be planned and the remaining work to be carried out in virtual meetings. The WHO’s dietary updates are regularly updated as more scientific information is made available.

Wu currently has nine grants relating to her research of agriculture, biotechnology and food safety and nutrition to improve public health outcomes.

Outside of her appointments with the WHO, Wu serves as the president of the Society for Risk Analysis with 2,000 members. Additionally, she was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as a member of the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development for the state of Michigan, among other roles that will be posted on her WHO bio later in the year.

The first meeting of the Risk-Benefit Assessment Technical Group will be held in the fall of 2024.

“I am looking forward to working with experts from across the world to formulate these recommendations and to bring my 25 years of food safety and nutrition experience to the committee,” Wu said.

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