Personalised nutrition poses data and security concerns

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers have revealed their concerns over personalised nutrition
Consumers have revealed their concerns over personalised nutrition

Related tags: European union

Personalised nutrition is perceived positively by consumers but they lack confidence over the protection of their health data and trust in regulators and service providers, a new study has found.‘Quote marks’“Double quote”

Researchers working on the EU Food4Me project have published findings about a consumer focus-group study to identify motivating factors toward personalised nutrition, which is the practice of designing better, healthier and more individualised diets.

The team’s research, published in peer-reviewed journal Appetite, showed that consumers perceived personalised nutrition to benefit their health and fitness with positive drivers for including convenience and a payment-based system.

Concerned about their health data

However, consumers were concerned about protection of their health data, and trust in regulators and personalised nutrition service providers.

The goal of the Food4Me project, with funding from the European Commission, is to explore European public concepts of personalised nutrition, and to identify the best delivery methods of information and services.

Food4me researchers from 11 different universities and institutes performed a pan-European study of consumer attitudes and opinions from a small sample of 126 people in Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

Perceived benefits

Research questions explored participants’ opinions and understanding towards personalised nutrition and data analysis showed participants were intuitively aware of the perceived benefits of personalised nutrition over generalised nutritional advice.

Negative perceptions related to storage of personal data, especially whether consumer genetic information is ‘anonymised’, and trustworthiness in the expertise of those that hold this information. For example, consumers were worried that their data could be lost or misused if it fell into the wrong hands. There was also scepticism in the ability of postal services to reliably deliver biological samples.

There was less evidence that participants would choose to practise personalised nutrition themselves, because they believed it applied to people at greater health risk. This may prove to be a barrier to improving public health, unless messaging is conveyed appropriately. Communication should be framed around benefits and convenience, the study said.

Related topics: Health and nutritional ingredients

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