Personalised Nutrition is trendy. But can it really help us to eat less junk

These foods are also known as discretionary foods and include biscuits, sausages, sweetened drinks, alcohol, and cakes.

Diets that are unhealthy are the main reason for almost 1 in 3 adults in Australia being obese. Weight gain increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as some cancers.

The new research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity today found that personalized nutrition advice helped adults eat fewer junk foods compared to conventional dietary advice.

What is personalized Nutrition?

Personalized Nutrition is the process of tailoring diet advice to improve the health of an individual based on their characteristics. Dietary advice can be tailored to a person’s weight, eating habits, cholesterol level, and genetics.

Dietitians have given personalized advice for centuries. The rise of wearables, apps, and new technologies that allow detailed monitoring of health is what is new. Can use the information for personalized advice.

New technologies fuel the rise of personalized nutritional products. Shutterstock

We conducted the Food4Me Study to determine whether personalized nutrition advice improved dietary habits.

Research on the topic

We recruited 1,607 adults from seven European countries to participate in a six-month diet study.

Adults were initially assigned to either a control or one of the three nutrition-specific groups.

Dietary advice

Adults in the control group received normal dietary advice. For example, I am “eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.” In Australia, the recommendation is to eat at least seven servings daily.

Read more: Supermarkets claim to have our health at heart. But their marketing tactics push junk foods.

Personalized dietary advice

The three groups of personalized Nutrition received tailored advice based on different characteristics. All advice was based on behavior change strategies, such as substituting discretionary foods with healthier alternatives.

The advice given to Group 1 was based on the food they consumed.

We told someone who ate a lot of salty meat to cut back on processed meats, pies, and salami and switch them for beef or turkey.

Group 2 was given advice based on the diet and measurements of their bodies.

We might tell someone who has a high cholesterol level and a high waist circumference to stop snacking on chocolate and biscuits. They would be better off eating fruit and healthy fats like nuts instead.

The advice given to Group 3 was based on the group’s diet, measurements of their body, and genetic information.

We told someone who had a high risk of cholesterol and was eating a lot of salty meat that they were genetically predisposed to this condition and should maintain a normal cholesterol level and a healthy intake. We recommended that they switch from processed meats such as burgers and sausages to lean meats like skinless chicken breast or lean meats.

Read more: These four diets are trending. We looked at the science (or lack of it) behind each one.

So, does personalized nutrition work?

At the beginning and the end of the study, we asked our volunteers to fill out an online survey, asking them how frequently they consume various foods and drinks.

Participants who received personalized dietary advice decreased their intake of discretionary food more than those who received normal nutritional advice.

This improvement was observed across all nutrition groups that were personalized, regardless of whether the advice was personalized on the basis of the diet, body measurements, genetics, or a combination thereof.

We did find some evidence to suggest that adults who were given advice solely based on body measurements and diet (group 2) reduced their discretionary intake of food more than those receiving advice based only on their body measurements and diet (group 3).

We found that personalized nutrition advice is associated with healthier eating. Shutterstock

Our findings are in line with other research on personalized Nutrition.

In a recent systemic review, we examined the results of 11 personalized nutritional studies conducted in Europe and North America. Overall, we found that customized nutrition advice was more effective than standard dietary advice in improving healthy habits.

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