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08 May 2024

Personalised nutrition more effective than general diet advice

Personalised nutrition approaches can improve several key health metrics including lower weight, lower cholesterol, better mood, improved gut health, lower heart disease risk and better metabolic health.


Improvements for those following personalised guidance were also greater in some areas than for those following current, generalised government advice.

Numerous chronic diseases and health issues can be linked back to our diets, including stroke risk, heart disease and some cancers. New research emerges all the time, deepening our understanding of how nutrition affects our health. Changing our diet can make us healthier and reduce the risk of chronic disease, but it has been found that people often don’t follow generalised health advice.

There is also wide variation in how people’s bodies respond to food, even between identical twins. Despite this, little research has been done into the effectiveness of personalised dietary approaches.

In this study, researchers from the School of Life Course & Population Sciences wanted to see if a personalised diet plan, tailored to an individual’s biology, lifestyle and health history, would have a greater impact that generic nutrition advice such as to avoid red meat. The personalised diet programmes were created by ZOE, a science and nutrition company co-founded by King’s Professor Tim Spector which aims to help members improve their health with personalised advice.

347 Americans took part in the study, with researchers comparing the effects of following an 18-week personalised program to generic US government-issued nutrition advice. While both groups improved their health overall, participants on the personalised diet plan lost more weight than the control group and lowered their triglyceride levels more – decreasing their risk of heart disease.

Participants following the personalised diet plan were also twice as likely to report improved mood, twice as likely to feel less hungry and more than four times more likely to report better sleep quality and energy levels compared with the control group.

"It is clear that some current population advice isn’t working as well as it could, with many people struggling to stick to it. ZOE advice shows that thinking about foods in a totally different way with the emphasis on quality, personalisation and gut health can have massive benefits if adopted more widely."

Professor Tim Spector, School of Life Course and Population Sciences and Scientific co-founder of ZOE

"ZOE's METHOD trial builds on growing evidence that a personalised dietary approach can be an effective tool for improving health. Personalised approaches can improve both how well people follow advice, as well as the efficacy of the advice. Targeting multiple features of personalisation is key to success, including people’s biology, lifestyles, barriers and preferences."

Dr Sarah Berry, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Chief Scientist of ZOE

The research was published on 8th May in Nature Medicine.

In this story

Tim Spector

Professor of Genetic Epidemiology