The sequencing of the human genome raised great expectations of major advances in health care, including nutritional well-being. However, personalised nutrition has not yet arrived although many commercial services offer such advice, all of which is highly dubious. The big challenges in public health (obesity, heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes) cannot be related to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) since they are all highly complex conditions. The combination of known high risk genetic variants may help to provide a greater understanding of the development of these conditions but that, in itself, cannot tell us how to treat these conditions on any personalised basis. SNPs are widely studied to explain human variation in responsiveness to diet but these are almost exclusively association studies and cannot distinguish cause and effect. Metabolomics, the simultaneous measurement of several hundred metabolites in biofluids may make it possible to identify an individuals habitual diet given that dietary surveys are associated with a very high degree of under-reporting of energy intake. Internet delivered dietary analysis and personalised dietary advice almost certainly has a future and will function within the wider digital world involving retail services, dining services and devices such as smart fridges.
About Professor Michael J Gibney
Professor Michael J Gibney, MAgrSc, MA, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Food and Health at University College Dublin and has been a faculty member at the Universities of Sydney, Southampton and Dublin. A former President of the Nutrition Society, he was a member of the scientific advisory committee of the Sackler Institute of Nutrition of the New York Academy of Sciences, of the Nestle Nutrition Council and of the Google Food Innovation Lab.
He chaired the board of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and was inaugural editor-in-chief of the Nutrition Society suite of textbooks on human nutrition. His research interests lie in metabolic and molecular nutrition and in public health nutrition. Professor Gibney has been elected a fellow of the American Society for Nutrition and of the Nutrition Society and also is a fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (2012) and of the International Union of Food Science and Technology.