Last week INCluSilver held its very first workshop in innovation in personalised nutrition through cluster cooperation for the Silver Economy. Interested SMEs and experts met up with INCluSilver’s partners in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain for the day-long innovation boot camp, and among the exciting many projects that were presented was Food4Me.
What is Food4Me?
Like INCluSilver, Food4Me is also an EU-funded project that works with personalised nutrition, but the similarities end there. While INCluSilver deals with funding innovative SMEs with solutions for the elderly within personalised nutrition, Food4Me emerged out of the need for more research into the current knowledge of personalised nutrition.
In 2000, the complete mapping of the human genome sequence brought about the possibility of individualised medicine and the birth of the field of “nutrigenomics”, which examines the relationship between food and gene expression. However, the promise of personalised nutrition has failed to develop as a commercial service.
Food4Me attempts to tackle these issues through comprehensive analyses of the opportunities and challenges in the field of personalised nutrition, and answer the pressing question: “How can we best use our current understanding of food, genes, and physical traits to design healthier diets tailored for each individual?”
In order to do this, Food4Me has gathered an international group of experts to survey the current knowledge of personalised nutrition and to explore the application of individualised nutrition advice. The Food4Me project will also investigate consumer attitudes and produce new scientific tools for implementation.
Research carried out by Food4Me has resulted in much-needed knowledge into the field of personalised nutrition.
One of the key points is that people are very interested in getting information about the benefits of adopting personal nutrition. This, however, can be challenging as the perceived benefits may vary between consumers. Another important factor to getting consumers interested is to make information available about the ease of adopting personalised nutrition since this could convince potential users of the benefits.
Protection of privacy is another issue of concern among consumers, which is unsurprising in this day and age. As a result, they require transparent regulations regarding the protection of data and proper enforcement of these regulations across both the private and public sectors, as well as open communication with the public about data protection to inspire trust.
Finally, consumers expect a certain level of expertise and credibility in personalised nutrition providers, and they want a health professional to be involved in the provision of personalised nutrition information.
Food4Me’s research suggests that increasing the intensity of feedback to consumers may be counterproductive. Furthermore, only wealthy participants are willing to pay for personalised nutrition services. Thus, careful analysis of the costs required to provide such services is still needed.