Nard Clabbers is a nutrition scientist and works for TNO, the Dutch organization for applied scientific research. Together with Wageningen University and Research and selected private parties, he has set up a unique international network that investigates personalized nutrition and health. Nard participates as a mentor and trainer at the NUTRITION HACKATHON #1. We spoke to him about personalized nutrition.
Nard, you are a nutritionist and responsible for Business Development at TNO's Personalized Nutrition & Health division? What is Personalized Nutrition?
Personalised nutrition is about knowing what is good for you as an individual and being able and willing to make a better (often healthier) choice. It’s about empowering consumers.
Why is it important to advance Personalized Nutrition?
People will have more and more knowledge about their health and the impact of nutrition on their health. With wearable technology and digital advancements, the amount of data generated will increase rapidly. The data around nutrition and health will enable consumers to choose better foods. Who would not want that!? I would say, looking at the nutritional uncertainty and anxiety of consumers today, that that is a significant unmet need.
What is the role of nutrition experts in Personalized Nutrition?
Their role is essential. In our research consortium at TNO, we have science teams with both nutritionists, data scientists and behavioural scientists to make the most of what we know. In the end, most people have to change their behavior to go into the direction of a healthier lifestyle.
What is TNO and the Personalized Nutrition & Health consortium doing?
We do research with and for companies and we offer business to business solutions and consultancy on all aspects of personalised nutrition. In some cases, like in the Personalised Nutrition and Health consortium, we team up with Wageningen University and Research to assemble the best team for the job.
What is nutrition in one sentence?
It is what makes me me. 😊
What is the role of nutrition experts in shaping the future of food and nutrition?
I would say that food is the single most important thing in life. In the modern western world this was forgotten for a few decades but that will be a thing of the past. In the future, we will need nutrition experts as part of multidisciplinary teams to help shape policies, to cure people, to prevent disease from even happening, to foster healthy new generations, to prevent war caused by food shortages and to help save the world from climate change.
Do you have a role model and how does this role model inspire you?
I admire all scientists that are not afraid to tell the world that they are not certain. When it comes to research about food and health, we have a lot of data, but we are still at the beginning to understand this relationship - often we are not certain. That’s difficult but that is the way it is. Let’s not pretend otherwise to come across as knowledgeable.
What do you like about Nutrition Hub?
I support the idea that nutritionists need to be involved at board level in food companies dealing with the most important thing in life: The stuff that makes us who and what we are - FOOD. Also, I like the idea of a community where conscientious nutritional experts from different walks of life can come together and can be found by people looking for a bit of wisdom and reflection in these fact-free times.
Here is the website of the consortium which is committed to "Creating a society in which every individual is able to follow an eating pattern that precisely meets their needs." https://www.personalisednutritionandhealth.com