A nutritionally well-balanced diet is essential for the metabolic needs of the body to function throughout the lifespan. Consistent with this, the absence of a balanced diet is a well-recognised contributor to various health problems, including malnutrition, heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes, amongst others 1-3.
Each person reacts differently to the same nutritional content
However, interventions which aim to alter dietary patterns often have only limited effects on public health. This may be because not everyone responds to a given intervention in the same way: differences in the response of people to many dietary components have been well documented 4, 5. The variability in responses may be attributed to age, sex, lifestyle, environmental exposures, genetics, metabolism and food intake.
This has led to the development of the idea of personalised nutrition strategies, which aim to increase an individual’s health status based on their specific characteristics.
Personalised nutrition analyses individuals’ physical and behavioural traits, lifestyle, genotype and physical conditions for a more effective dietary and lifestyle habits advice
Personalised nutrition can use information from an individual’s genetic profile, metabolic characteristics and behavioural characteristics to deliver tailored nutritional and wellbeing advice in order to achieve lasting dietary change that is beneficial for health.
Personalised nutrition is a result of nutrition research as well as the development of new technology. The latter allows for data to be transformed into user-friendly practical information, for example by using mobile apps. Personalised nutrition generally aims to prevent rather than treat disease, by increasing an individual’s overall health status. It has the potential to be effective across large populations since advice can be delivered to many individuals through their devices, wherever they are.
More effective dietary recommendations
There are limited studies reporting the effects of personalised nutrition on health that also factor in genetic information, since it is a fairly new concept. One large study, carried out in 2017, investigated the effectiveness of personalised nutrition across seven European countries. The researchers concluded that personalised nutritional advice via an internet-delivered intervention produced larger and more beneficial changes in dietary behaviour than a conventional approach 6.
The PREVENTOMICS project will test a new personalised strategy which will use a biomarker based system to send personalised advice on dietary and lifestyle habits to empower consumers to prevent diet-related diseases. The project will use intervention trials to validate and assess the effectiveness of personalised nutrition information delivered through an app.
One part of the PREVENTOMICS project will compare the personalised nutrition strategy to a conventional approach to help over-weight and obese individuals to achieve weight loss and improved health status.
PREVENTOMICS will validate a biomarker-based system to send personalised advice on dietary and lifestyle habits
Personalised nutrition has the potential to offer a sustained behavioural change in individuals by tailoring advice to their specific needs and therefore may help to improve public health. The PRVENTOMICS project will be an important step to achieving this.
Professor of Nutritional Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK.
Philip Calder is an internationally recognized researcher on the metabolism and functionality of fatty acids with an emphasis on the roles of omega-3 fatty acids and on the influence of diet and nutrients on the immune and inflammatory responses. His research addresses both life course and translational considerations. He has received many awards and prizes for his work including the prestigious Danone International Prize for Nutrition (2016). Professor Calder was President of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (2009-2012), Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (2012-2016) and President of the Nutrition Society (2016-2019). He will be President of the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (2019-2023). He was previously Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Nutrition and is currently an Associate Editor of several journals including Journal of Nutrition and Clinical Science.
Research fellow, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK.
BSc Biochemistry and microbiology, with experience in both pharmaceutical and research laboratories using a wide range of techniques. Recently completed a PhD in the Academic Unit of Human Development and Health, University of Southampton. My research focused on the effect of plant-derived fatty acids on endothelial function and inflammation, compared to marine derived fatty acids, in the context of cardiovascular disease.
- Micha, R., et al., Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States.JAMA, 2017. 317(9): p. 912-924.
- Ferlay, J., et al., Cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: sources, methods and major patterns in GLOBOCAN 2012.Int J Cancer, 2015. 136(5): p. E359-86.
- Collaborators, G.B.D.R.F., Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.Lancet, 2016. 388(10053): p. 1659-1724.
- Miller, J.Z., et al., Blood pressure response to dietary sodium restriction in healthy normotensive children.Am J Clin Nutr, 1988. 47(1): p. 113-9.
- Morris, C., et al., Identification of differential responses to an oral glucose tolerance test in healthy adults.PLoS One, 2013. 8(8): p. e72890.
- Celis-Morales, C., et al., Effect of personalized nutrition on health-related behaviour change: evidence from the Food4Me European randomized controlled trial.Int J Epidemiol, 2017. 46(2): p. 578-588.