The May Nutrition Society Paper of the month is from Nutrition Research Reviews  and is entitled ‘An insight into the public acceptance of nutrigenomic-based personalised nutrition’.

The development of disease prevention strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases is a key priority in nutrition research. With estimates that the majority of these conditions could be prevented through diet and lifestyle changes, we naturally look towards dietary interventions to bring about this reduction in disease risk. However, despite widespread promotion of population based healthy eating guidelines over the last decade, diseases such as CVD remains the leading cause of mortality in the EU. Recent evidence, founded on the emergence of the nutrigenomic and nutrigenetic disciplines, has pointed towards personalised nutrition as a means of facilitating this.

Attrition to nutritional guidelines poses one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the success of dietary interventions and, whilst there is a dearth of research investigating the efficacy of nutrigenomic-based personalised nutrition, the initial results look promising. In a study conducted by Arkadianos et al. (2007) it was found that nutrigenetic screening increased compliance and resulted in longer-term BMI reductions when compared with standard weight-loss advice. However, not only is it crucial that new dietary interventions are beneficial to public health, but also that members of the public are willing to engage with proposed services.

The present paper summarises the literature regarding the public acceptance of nutrigenomic-based personalised nutrition. Overall, willingness to undergo genetic testing for the purpose of disease prevention ranged from 48-85%. Factors shown to affect this included cost, delivery, clear consumer benefits, disease reference and perceived susceptibility to disease. Stewart-Knox et al. (2008) found that individuals who self-reported symptoms of the metabolic syndrome were more willing to undergo genetic testing than those without symptoms, particularly for the purpose of following a personalised diet. Given that the greatest numbers of disease events occur in individuals with a lower risk of disease, these results are promising for the future of disease prevention and public health nutrition.

It has been estimated that a 1 % reduction in relative risk of CVD in England and Wales could save the National Health Service £30 million per year. The results of this review suggest that individuals with symptoms of disease are likely to engage with a nutrigenomic-based personalised nutrition service; however, much work is needed in the future to determine whether it will be effective in motivating individuals to change their dietary habits and hence reduce disease prevalence.

This paper is freely available for one month

Nutrition Society Paper of the Month

Each month a paper is selected by one of the Editors of the five Nutrition Society Publications (British Journal of Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition, Nutrition Research Reviews, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society and Journal of Nutritional Science). This paper is freely available for one month.

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