Do ‘Personalized Nutrition’ Technologies Have a Role in Nutrition Counseling?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, (RDNs) conduct individualized assessment and counseling as a routine part of their work. As the landscape of available tools shifts to incorporate personalized nutrition (PN) technologies (including genetic tests, computer applications and microbiome testing kits), RDNs have the opportunity to begin using these tools with their patients.
We worked with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to develop 10 Guiding Principles for Implementation of Personalized Nutrition. Further, we collaborated with AND to align these principles with the existing AND Code of Ethics and Scope and Standards of Practice. The results were published as a From the Academy article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2019.
Guiding Principles for Identifying Credible Personalized Nutrition Approaches
Personalized nutrition (PN) approaches can help to change behaviors and positively influence health. As science and technology evolve, products and services related to PN have grown – leading to confusion about what PN tools work. A cluttered landscape can dampen trust in the promise of these tools – all the while evidence-based approaches could reduce barriers to health maintenance and improvement. Agreed-upon principles for ensuring that a product or service is based on sound science supports the creation of credible PN strategies.
To address this need, we convened a diverse panel of experts from government, industry, nutrition practitioner organizations and academic researchers. We tapped expertise in computational biology, systems biology, integrative physiology, nutrition assessment, product development, regulatory science, law, nutrigenomics, biostatistics, and other disciplines. And, together, a definition, and a set of guiding principles were developed. These serve as a checklist against which PN products, services, and tools can be matched as a screen for credibility and efficacy.
Personalized nutrition tools remain at an early stage, and advancement must occur. However, the PN guiding principles were designed to withstand the test of further discovery and evidence.
The Many Faces of Personalized Nutrition
Nutrition tailored to an individual is evolving into a diverse array of options ranging from one-on-one professional engagement to high tech/high touch. Although the study of the interaction of nutrition and genes has received a lot of attention, there are many other high potential approaches available and for which the science and application to the public are successfully advancing.
To explore the diversity of options in the personalized nutrition toolbox, a session was held at the 2019 American Society for Nutrition Conference. The topics explored included high tech personalized nutrigenomics and metabolic measures that help determine likely response to dietary choices as well as tools designed to motivate and track behavioral choices.