• ICN

Personalised Nutrition and Health

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

Authors: Dr Jose M Ordovas, Dr Lynnette R Ferguson, Dr E Shyong Tai, Dr John C Mathers

Summary: In this informative review, Ordovas and colleagues discuss the concept of personalised nutrition and its current state of progress. Whilst nutrition is a key corner stone of chronic disease treatment, nutritional interventions have commonly shown modest results, including modest adherence. It is argued that the “one intervention for all” approach dilutes robust results in studies because it ignores individual differences and preferences when targeting long lasting behaviour change for efficacious results. Personalised nutrition does not have an agreed definition per se, but describes an approach that considers a number of individualised parameters:  genetic predisposition, gut microbiota composition, requirements based on current health status, health goals, and food preferences, that all guide “precision nutrition” interventions.


The parameters worth considering are discussed in light of new investigation technologies available. Questions remain on how to translate this approach at a population level in a cost-effective manner. No personalised study has yet provided robust prospective results in terms of sample size and follow-up time to demonstrate the efficacy and durability of the approach. Yet commercial endeavours are already well under way, providing consumers with tailored advice based on algorithms that characterise individuals, and determining personalised dietary plans. The review proposes the use of aggregated n-of-1 trials as a robust design to derive the appropriate evidence both for personalised precision nutrition, and for group/population nutrition conclusions to be drawn.


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Full reference: Ordovas Jose M, Ferguson Lynnette R, Tai E Shyong, Mathers John C. Personalised nutrition and health BMJ 2018; 361 :bmj.k2173