Food4Me partner of the month

John Mathers - Newcastle University

John Mathers leads the work on the design, delivery and evaluation of outcomes from the Proof of Principle (PoP) Study. The PoP Study is large and complex and will run across 7 European countries. Its purpose is to discover whether it is possible to deliver scientifically robust, and personalised, dietary advice via the internet to help people choose healthier eating patterns.

john matherssmall

John Mathers - Biography

I am Professor of Human Nutrition and Director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre. I have broad interests in understanding how nutrition influences health across the life-course and, particularly, in studying epigenetic mechanisms which may explain the molecular mechanisms responsible for interactions between nutrition and the genome. Increasingly, my work is focussing on ageing and the development of age-related diseases including cancers and dementia and I am also Scientific Director of the Institute for Ageing and Health in Newcastle University (www.ncl.ac.uk/iah).This area of my work includes the design and testing of lifestyle-based interventions to help people age better and the development of biomarkers of healthy ageing.

How did you get involved in the Food4Me project?

The short answer is that Mike Gibney invited me to get involved! I have had a long-term interest in diet:gene interactions – in other words, how food components and nutrition interact with our genome to influence cell function and, therefore, health. Through NuGO (the EU FP6 Network of Excellence in Nutrigenomics), I got to know several of the partners in Food4Me as we collaborated in a number of areas from design of human studies, through technical and ethical issues in nutrigenomics research to considerations of how the knowledge emerging from such research might be used to improve public health. This included the potential for personalised nutrition.

What are you hoping will be the outcome of your research?

We are particularly interested in finding out whether a greater degree of personalisation of dietary advice (based on dietary analysis, analysis of blood samples and information about the individual's genetic makeup) helps people make bigger, and more appropriate, changes to their diets to improve health and whether these dietary changes can be maintained.

What impact do you hope your research will have?

If successful, our research will tell us whether we can improve on the current public health nutrition approach of "one size fits all" and what we need to do to enable, and motivate, people to make healthier dietary choices.

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