At NUTRI-FACTS, we are always striving to spark conversations about nutrition science, research and advocacy that helps make the world’s populations healthier. As 2018 comes to a close, we wanted to gain insight from industry leaders about what the future holds for nutrition research in 2019.
We had the privilege of speaking with Peter Van Dael, Ph.D., senior vice president of nutrition science and advocacy at DSM Nutritional Products. Dr. Van Dael shared a look at the most compelling research of 2018 while giving us a glimpse at which nutrition topics will be top of mind for health care practitioners and researchers alike in 2019.
NF: Thank you for joining us, Dr. Van Dael. In your opinion, what was 2018’s most compelling piece of nutrition research that was published?
PVD: The area of nutrition research is so vast and rapidly evolving that rather than calling out one compelling topic, I would rather like to focus on the developments that caught my attention over the last 12 months.
In this light, data from longitudinal studies focusing on long-term health outcomes are fascinating as these concretely demonstrate that adequate nutrition is key to maximize our intrinsic health potential.
Another interesting area relates to the continuous flow of new data unraveling on how the gut microbiome is closely interlinked with different aspects of our health and wellbeing.
The emerging data on how personalized nutrition in general, and personalized weight management in particular, offer new approaches for optimized dietary management are extremely interesting. Data analytics and how this may revolutionize personalized solutions to optimize our health and wellbeing are changing nutrition approaches. Applying these to personalized weight management, depending among other on genetics, diet and physical activity, offers an appealing approach to individualize an effective weight management.
Data for nutritional studies in emerging and developing countries continue to shed light on how critically important nutritional interventions can be to improve quality of life and health.
Finally, I am extremely interested by the research regarding sustainable agriculture and food systems as well as studies focused on the socio-economic impact of adequate nutrition on societies.
NF: What do you predict will be the next big area of nutrition (or nutrition research) for 2019?
PVD: Aligned with the above areas of nutrition research, I predict the following research areas will get the most attention.
Globally, weight management is clearly one of the key research topics given its global health impact. Therefore, I predict this research area will continue to attract attention from the research community as well as health authorities. Gut microbiome research with a particular focus on how the microbiome may be associated to weight management, gut-brain connectivity and to specific health conditions, such as autism, will definitely remain a booming research area in 2019 and into the next decennium.
Instead of being a trend, personalized nutrition will generate a paradigm shift, creating a lasting approach to dietary health management. Research focused on how individual nutritional data can be linked to personalized nutrition and its effect on health and overall wellbeing will draw increasing research resources in 2019 and years to come.
I also expect to see continued focus on the dietary management and nutritional approaches for the growing ageing populations. With a globally increasing life expectancy and increasing retiring age assuring improved quality of life is getting increasingly important if not indispensable for all stakeholders.
In the new year, I also expect more research efforts regarding the impact of climate change on sustainable food systems as well as how to manage its impact on health and wellbeing.
NF: How will this research impact food, beverage and dietary supplement innovation in 2019?
PVD: Research data will offer new insights that will enable food and nutrition companies to develop innovative and improved nutritional and dietary solutions to manage health and wellbeing of the growing global population. I particularly want to highlight the importance of providing nutritional and food solutions to consumers as we eat foods and not nutrients. We at DSM will continue to focus on nutritional solutions that provide nutrients in an adequate and nutritious format to the global population.
NF: Anything else you’d like to share about predictions for 2019?
PVD: Being the last year of a decennium, discussions will focus on the decennium to come and how this may offer new opportunities and challenges. I remain optimistic about the power of nutrition research when it comes to developing nutritional solutions. Consistent research by engaged and committed scientists is successful when supported by focused and consistent broad stakeholder engagement. In this context, I want to make a strong appeal for continued and increased public private partnerships built on trust and mutual respect as this is needed to develop and make adequate nutritional solutions globally available now and for generations to come. The world’s populations are looking to its leaders for this commitment. I wish we are all ready to engage with a strong commitment!
Do you want your share your perspective about nutrition research? If so, contact the NUTRI-FACTS team to be considered for our next expert Q&A.