August 25, 2016

Personalized Nutrition Better Than One-Size-Fits-All

My cousin Beverly and I had an excellent discussion about this study. She knows I detest one-size-fits-all advice and with this study having four personalized groups and a control group makes for an interesting comparison. We both agreed that the study had some very weak points and could have been altered by the participants without anyone knowing it.

The study, called Food4Me, was innovative in that participants were recruited online and then reported their dietary and other data via the web. Participants collected their own blood samples using kits provided.

In the study, 1,607 adults across seven European countries joined through the Food4Me website and were randomized to one of four treatment groups. In addition to a Control group who was given conventional dietary advice, they were allocated to one of three different personalized nutrition options:
  • personalized nutrition based on analysis of current diet
  • personalized nutrition based on diet and phenotype (adiposity (body fatness) and blood markers)
  • personalized nutrition based on diet, phenotype and genotype (five genes were examined for which there was strong evidence of diet-gene interactions and the opportunity to tailor dietary advice based on genotype)
At the end of six months, 80% of the participants completed the study successfully and the researchers discovered that those randomized to the personalized nutrition treatment groups had significantly bigger improvements in their eating patterns than those randomized to the Control group. To their surprise, the researchers found that there was no evidence that the different bases for personalization made any difference to the outcome.

Beverly and I both agreed that some of the advice given may not have been the best and could lead to reversal after the study was complete. A 20 percent dropout may have been the result to some not liking the advice of the reduction of red meat, increasing whole grains for fiber intake, and reducing full fat dairy products to reduce saturated fats.

We both agreed that people receiving personalized nutrition advice develop healthier eating habits including consuming less red meat and reducing their salt intake, as the study has found. Nothing is mentioned about whether highly processed foods elimination helped reduce the salt intake.

In this study, they found that personalized nutrition advice helped people to make bigger and more appropriate changes to their diets than the conventional healthy eating advice, which was followed by the control group.

Like many food studies, a six-month study can lead to a few conclusions, but some of the conclusions of this study are suspect.

No comments: