Nutrition’s future is linked to epigenetics

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

The science of food nutrition has advanced more over the past 50 years than at any time before, says the British Nutrition Foundation director general Professor Judy Buttriss.

In this exclusive video interview, filmed as part of the Food Manufacture​’s 90th​ birthday celebrations, Buttriss said the health problems of added fat and sugars in the national diet began to emerge in the 1970s and, more recently, the link between people's diet, health and their genetic make-up has become a focus of scientific investigation.

“Over the last 50 years, there’s been a real escalation in our understanding of nutrition, and why food and what we eat is actually really important for our health,”​ said Buttriss. “A big driver of that is the discipline of epidemiology ​[study of the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases].

‘Driven our understanding’

“That has really driven our understanding, which has enabled us to have the dietary recommendations that we now have around fat, sugar, fibre and so forth, so that’s been a really important feature over the past 50 years.”

The BNF, a charity dedicated to the disseminating understanding of the science of evidence-based nutrition, celebrates its 50th birthday.

Also in this video interview, Buttriss discussed the emerging science of epigenetics – the study of biological mechanisms in people that will switch genes on and off. The scientific understanding meant people were able to make subtle changes to their lifestyle to improve their health and wellbeing, she said.

‘Diet, nutrition and lifestyle’

Buttriss said: “A key development that’s come from ​[nutrition research] is an understanding of the biological process called epigenetics. That helps us understand how diet, nutrition and lifestyle could actually modify how our genome behaves.

“That’s why making subtle changes at important lifestyle points​ [is beneficial]. It’s through that, that we think nutrition influences our health and how we respond to different things, by switching particularly genes on and off in relation to nutrition.”

Meanwhile, watch out for Buttriss’s feature in the September issue of Food Manufacture​, as part of the Food Manufacture Group’s 90th​ birthday supplement.

Happy 90th birthday to Food Manufacture

Happy birthday to our sister title, Food Manufacture​.

The magazine was first published in 1927, with the aim of providing a forum for discussion for professionals working in food and drink processing.

Don’t miss our 90th​ birthday celebration supplement in the September issue of Food Manufacture​.

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast