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Personalised nutrition held back by ‘lack of trust and transparency’

By Will Chu from Amsterdam , 13-Jul-2016
Last updated on 13-Jul-2016 at 14:00 GMT2016-07-13T14:00:16Z

Nard Clabbers, senior business developer, personalised nutrition and health for TNO, described the possibilities of tailoring nutrition to an individual.

Nard Clabbers, senior business developer, personalised nutrition and health for TNO, described the possibilities of tailoring nutrition to an individual.

The progress of personalised nutrition is being hampered by the food industry’s ‘lack of trust and transparency,’ in product composition and effects on health.

Presenting at the Personalised Nutrition 2.0 Congress in Amsterdam, Nard Clabbers, senior business developer, personalised nutrition and health for TNO, lamented at the quality of nutritional information available that informed consumers of the food they were eating.

“What is extremely important for the industry is the enormous lack of trust and transparency that we see today in the food industry,” he said.

“If everything is known, if it is known what is inside a product and its health effect on the body, that will really be a big change in the industry as we know it.”  

“No one is interested in food advice from the big food makers,” he added. It’s not trustworthy. We really need to think about business models that involve a lot of parties that add value to our consumers.”

Consumer empowerment

Consumer empowerment would come in the form of tailored personal dietary advice. Image: ©Nard clabbers

Clabbers proposed the creation of a multidisciplinary research ecosystem that harnessed nutritional, technological and social approaches to enable personalised nutrition and consumer empowerment.

He advocated consumer empowerment via tailored personal dietary advice that took into account individual parameters.

These parameters included personal preferences, motivational goals, habits, social environment, genotype, phenotype, and broad measures of personal health status.

Clabbers believed personalised nutrition was much more than the food and nutrition aspect. He thought that different scientific disciplines would converge to find solutions. These would involve the nutritional sciences such as systems biology, the data sciences and the behavioural sciences.

“The behavioural scientists are people, who have to translate what nutritionists have found out and apply it to real life,” he explained.

“The behavioural change is the thing that’s difficult. We know what we should eat. But how to get people to do it, that’s actually the difficult part.”  

“The nutritional aspect of personalised nutrition can be used to empower people to make the right choice.”

3D personalised food

Clabbers spoke about how food could be reformed to aid those with swallowing difficulties. Image: ©Nard Clabbers

Clabbers introduced a unique concept in which 3D food was printed in a personalised fashion that would not only be nutritionally superior but aid those with physical difficulty in eating.

“Food can be modified in a way to include specific nutritional content. Consistency too can be changed in such a way that people with swallowing problems can eat food that look like certain foods. The appearance of food is all important in stimulating the appetite.”

He concluded by predicting the convergence of two trends. Health and wellness would assimilate well with the advent of a digital and technology revolution.

“This is personalised nutrition 2.0,” he stated. “Personalised nutrition is now become much more data-driven, with measurements of day-to-day changes self-managed in order to measure the bio-psycho-social aspects of health.”

“Therefore future business models will be knowledge driven, and personal data will be connected and enriched with peer’s ‘big data’?”

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