Research gaps and opportunities in precision nutrition: an NIH workshop report
Precision nutrition is an emerging concept that aims to develop nutrition recommendations tailored to different people's circumstances and biological characteristics. Responses to dietary change and the resulting health outcomes from consuming different diets may vary significantly between people based on interactions between their genetic backgrounds, physiology, microbiome, underlying health status, behaviors, social influences, and environmental exposures. On 11–12 January 2021, the National Institutes of Health convened a workshop entitled “Precision Nutrition: Research Gaps and Opportunities” to bring together experts to discuss the issues involved in better understanding and addressing precision nutrition. The workshop proceeded in 3 parts: part I covered many aspects of genetics and physiology that mediate the links between nutrient intake and health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, and cancer; part II reviewed potential contributors to interindividual variability in dietary exposures and responses such as baseline nutritional status, circadian rhythm/sleep, environmental exposures, sensory properties of food, stress, inflammation, and the social determinants of health; part III presented the need for systems approaches, with new methods and technologies that can facilitate the study and implementation of precision nutrition, and workforce development needed to create a new generation of researchers. The workshop concluded that much research will be needed before more precise nutrition recommendations can be achieved. This includes better understanding and accounting for variables such as age, sex, ethnicity, medical history, genetics, and social and environmental factors. The advent of new methods and technologies and the availability of considerably more data bring tremendous opportunity. However, the field must proceed with appropriate levels of caution and make sure the factors listed above are all considered, and systems approaches and methods are incorporated. It will be important to develop and train an expanded workforce with the goal of reducing health disparities and improving precision nutritional advice for all Americans.