Strong 7-country evidence for personalised nutrition – but not phenotype & genotype role

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

'Personalised nutrition intervention via the internet was highly effective in recruiting and retaining participants,' say Food4me researchers. ©iStock/ArtemSam
'Personalised nutrition intervention via the internet was highly effective in recruiting and retaining participants,' say Food4me researchers. ©iStock/ArtemSam

Related tags Nutrition Obesity Gene

There is “strong evidence” for the effectiveness of a personalised nutrition approach, researchers from the EU-funded Food4me project have found, but there is “no evidence” that adding phenotypic and genotypic information improves the success of these interventions.

The latest paper to come from the €9m EU-backed project found that after six months, people who received personalised nutrition advice had a healthier diet compared with those who received conventional advice.

These adults from seven European countries ate less saturated fat and red meat, more folate and had higher Healthy Eating Index scores than those given conventional control advice using non-personalised dietary, body weight and physical activity advice based on European population guidelines.

However this was regardless of whether this personalisation was based on their diet alone, diet and phenotype or diet, phenotype and genotype.

“These results demonstrate a lack of added value from using phenotypic or phenotypic and genotypic information to personalise lifestyle interventions,” ​the researchers from 12 institutions wrote in the International Journal of Epidemiology​.

They also found that among the 1,269 European adults that completed the study, personalised nutrition advice via the internet produced “larger and more appropriate changes”​ in dietary behaviour than a conventional approach.

“Our results provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of a personalised approach, compared with a conventional ‘one size fits all’ approach in achieving dietary change to improve health,”​ they wrote.

“Moreover, personalised nutrition intervention via the internet was highly effective in recruiting and retaining participants, and offers promise as a scalable and sustainable route to improving dietary behaviours, with important public health benefits.”

genes genotype personalised genetic iStock digitalgenetics

Good genes

Advances in genome sequencing bring time and cost down and improving the ability to extract information like disease risk, have fuelled interest in the use of personal genetics in recent years.

Dutch nutrition giant DSM has invested big in the concept, with a large-scale investigation with University Medical Centre Groningen into the impact of phenotypes – the visible or measurable expression of a genotype – like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and obesity on micronutrient status.

The LifeLines cohort will have an overall sample size of over 165,000 individuals, which will be followed for a period of 30 years. 

Yet the Food4me researchers said so far the effectiveness of using genetic-based information to spark behavioural change was “unclear”.​ 

"Despite suggestions that genotype-based interventions would have greater efficacy, few studies have tested this hypothesis."

The combinations

The adults with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 25.5 kg/m2 ​and age of 39.8 years were randomly assigned to be given: control conventional dietary advice or personalised nutrition advice.

This personalised nutrition was either based on: individual baseline diet; individual baseline diet plus phenotype (anthropometry and blood biomarkers); or individual baseline diet plus phenotype plus genotypes of five diet-responsive genetic variants.

Dietary intake, anthropometry and blood biomarkers were measured at baseline and after three and six months of intervention.


Source: International Journal of Epidemiology

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw186

“Effect of personalized nutrition on health-related behaviour change: evidence from the Food4me European randomized controlled trial”

Authors: C. C. Morales et al  

Related topics Research

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