The explosion in genetic and biological information presents an opportunity to explore, and ultimately exploit for health benefits, the inter-individual differences in the body’s ability to metabolise, and respond to, nutrients. This has led to the concept of personalised nutrition as opposed to public health nutrition—the ‘holy grail’ of individualised dietary recommendations for optimal health. Using examples from micronutrient and lipid metabolism, this article assesses the scientific progress in our understanding of genetic influences on nutrition and its impact on risk of multifactorial diseases, and identifies the implications of research to date. Genetic variants that influence nutrient metabolism have been identified, but individual variants have not been conclusively linked to the risk of multifactorial diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Increasingly, it is realised that multiple variants influence nutrient metabolism and health outcomes. There is a need for quantitative assessment and mathematical modelling of multiple genetic effects. It is likely that personalised nutrition will not have the dramatic impact that was once expounded but will in the future, as we understand the complex influences of genetics, and impinge on the work of medical practitioners and dietitians by improving their ability to provide individual dietary advice and by contributing to the development of biomarkers.
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Hesketh, J. Personalised nutrition: how far has nutrigenomics progressed?. Eur J Clin Nutr 67, 430–435 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2012.145
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