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Proposed guidelines to evaluate scientific validity and evidence for genotype-based dietary advice

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Mathers, Professor Lorraine Brennan, Dr Carlos Celis Morales



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Nutrigenetic research examines the effects of inter-individual differences in genotype on responses to nutrients and other food components, in the context of health and of nutrient requirements. A practical application of nutrigenetics is the use of personal genetic information to guide recommendations for dietary choices that are more efficacious at the individual or genetic sub-group level relative to generic dietary advice. Nutrigenetics is unregulated, with no defined standards, beyond some commercially adopted codes of practice. Only a few official nutrition-related professional bodies have embraced the subject, and, consequently, there is a lack of educational resources or guidance for implementation of the outcomes of nutrigenetic research. To avoid misuse and to protect the public, personalised nutrigenetic advice and information should be based on clear evidence of validity grounded in a careful and defensible interpretation of outcomes from nutrigenetic research studies. Evidence requirements are clearly stated and assessed within the context of state of the art “evidence based nutrition”. We have developed and present here a draft framework that can be used to assess the strength of the evidence for scientific validity of nutrigenetic knowledge and whether “actionable”. In addition, we propose that this framework be used as the basis for developing transparent and scientifically sound advice to the public based on nutrigenetic tests. We feel that although this area is still in its infancy, minimal guidelines are required. Though these guidelines are based on semi-quantitative data, they should stimulate debate on their utility. This framework will be revised biennially, as knowledge on the subject increases.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grimaldi KA, VanOmmen B, Ordovas JM, Parnell LD, Mathers JC, Bendik I, Brennan L, Celis-Morales C, Cirillo E, Daniel H, deKok B, El-Sohemy A, Fairweather-Tait SJ, Fallaize R, Fenech M, Ferguson LR, Gibney ER, Gibney M, Gjelstad IMF, Kaput J, Karlsen AS, Kolossa S, Lovegrove J, Macready AL, Marsaux CFM, AlfredoMartinez J, Milagro F, Navas-Carretero S, Roche HM, Saris WHM, Traczyk I, vanKranen H, Verschuren L, Virgili F, Weber P, Bouwman J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Genes & Nutrition

Year: 2017

Volume: 12

Online publication date: 15/12/2017

Acceptance date: 09/10/2017

Date deposited: 01/12/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1865-3499

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/s12263-017-0584-0


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Funder referenceFunder name
265494Commission of the European Communities