Personalised nutrition: connecting science and commerce


Personalised nutrition: connecting science and commerce

How big food corporates can impact your personal health

In the landscape of food companies, Unilever and Jumbo are massive players. Yet their size does not mean they only cater to the masses. Increasing insight into the link between food and health has led these companies to explore the part they play in improving food choices for individuals.

Webinar connects commerce and science

A recent webinar hosted by Deloitte, investigated the steps being taken in personalised nutrition. Prof. Dr Liesbeth van Rossum, Internist-endocrinologist and professor in the area of obesity and stress management with Erasmus MC, explained how our appetite system is regulated and influenced by external factors.

In general, eating a varied diet of predominantly unprocessed food is a healthy diet. A short-term proof-of-concept experiment by Hall and colleagues showed that a diet of unprocessed foods led to 1kg weight loss within two weeks in healthy overweight persons. At the same time, a diet of processed foods with exactly the same amount of macronutrients led to an unconscious extra food intake of more than 500 calories a day, and 1 kg of weight gain in this these two weeks. Interestingly, in contrast to ultra-processed food, this study showed that unprocessed food led to a biological response leading to feelings of fullness.

Clearly, there’s room for a more personal approach to nutrition. A diet based on an individual’s DNA, hormones, and medication, for example, could help deal with individual issues. 

Solutions for the obesity epidemic

Liesbeth van Rossum

Watch on YouTube

Impact on people and planet

Companies like Unilever and Jumbo are committed to improving sustainable and healthy lifestyles, helping to underline the link between food and health. Unilever, for example, provides recipes and education tailored to the local markets, enabling people to make better choices – better for themselves and better for the planet.

Dorothy Shaver, Global Marketing Sustainability Lead with Knorr at Unilever, outlined how Unilever’s Knorr brand makes healthier options more desirable, accessible and cookable, and that their ‘Future 50 foods’ outlines the foods we should be eating to improve our health while using less resources from the planet.

Increased personalisation

Jumbo’s approach to personalised nutrition is based on research, showing that people want to eat healthier but that they often find it complex and expensive. Jumbo rose to that challenge and made it their mission to make delicious and healthy food accessible to everyone – empowering people to make conscious steps in the right direction.

Jumbo’s Robert Jan Koens, talked the webinar’s participants through the Jumbo Foodcoach consumer app. A pilot in 2016, saw Jumbo provide 1150 personalised meals to the players of the PSV football team. Each meal was prepared according to the player’s personal nutrition needs. In 2018, the Jumbo Foodcoach app informed each cyclist in the Jumbo Visma cycling team exactly which foods to select from a personalised buffet. Over 80,000 meals later, the cyclists now say they cannot imagine the team without ‘their’ Foodcoach. The Jumbo Foodcoach consumer app, launched in 2020, lets customers enter personal data, information about their workout regime and the like. They can then choose from hundreds of suitable meals and can buy the ingredients in-store or have them delivered.

Helping people to make the right food choices

Food companies have extensive experience in product placement, marketing etc. The medical experts know all about how the brain and body are affected by food. Bringing these two together provides a comprehensive view of the triggers, barriers and motivators when it comes to food choices and ultimately health – not just with a commercial goal, but also in the interest of the consumer.

Inspired to explore the future? Check our articles and reports on the Future of Food, and the Future of Health. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to discuss the topic in person.

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