After a DNA test, I completely changed my diet

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Digesting data

But doing the test got me thinking, doesn’t everyone have a right to know their dietary related health risk? And aren’t younger people best placed to make changes that can bring about a sustainable benefit to health and well-being? And what about the majority of people in society who do not have the money to throw away on something that may only deliver benefits if dietary changes are achieved?

Whether I made dietary changes or not, I had a right to know this information about my health. And it’s a pity I did not have this information in my twenties rather than in my sixties, by which time there may already be irreparable damage to my body.

At the moment, such information is only available to those who can afford to pay for it. And the problem with this approach is that if public health services fail to roll out personalised nutrition to everyone as part of routine health care, it could soon lead to widened health inequalities – which would create a negative health impact in and of itself.

Make the future personal

At the start of this year, Britain’s National Health Service pledged to collect genetic information on all patients attending clinics. But this is probably a case of too little, too late, as people attending clinics are already likely to have conditions that are developing. Given that personalised nutrition technologies are already available, it seems unethical to let people go through life not knowing how they can prevent themselves from becoming ill. And as research shows, personalised nutrition goals can be motivating to patients.

The European-funded Food4me research project that I collaborated in found that a personalised approach was motivating not only because the information upon which advice is based is tailored, but also because it puts the individual in control.

It’s clear then that we need to start using genetic based technology to prevent diseases now. Personalised nutrition has the potential to reduce the burden of disease on health services and in doing so reduce public spending on health care. Of course, not all patients will make all the changes needed, but once people have this information, what they do with it is up to them – and it’s their choice to make.

Barbara Stewart-Knox, Professor of Psychology, University of Bradford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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