As many people kick off their year with resolutions, dreams and ambitions, a renewed focus on health is on that list for consumers around the globe.
A recent study by Life Time found that 81% are making health their top priority in 2021 as a result of the COVID pandemic, which impacted their health and fitness negatively. Interestingly, most stating weight loss as their top priority.
As we've kept our ears to the ground and our eyes wide open, here are 5 trends we we see in the industry.
1. Chronic disease management platforms in the real world
Telehealth platforms have been around for a while with many offering personalised coaching, remote monitoring and structured educational programs.
The new trend though, is the development of chronic diseases platforms that focus specifically on nutrition & lifestyle with a multidisciplinary approach, link to a retailers that guide individuals to better shopping habits and eating behaviours. The difference is that besides just focusing on behaviour change, these platforms offer creation of comprehensive individual profiles with advanced AI and machine learning algorithms that can match the personalized advice to the existing evidence base whilst also integrating multiple biometric data points and medications for instance. Examples include platforms such as Nutristyle, Mynomx and that offer image based food logging, tracking, shopping lists, recipes and personalised (family) meal plans. These evolved platforms plug the gap between healthcare and behaviour change in the real world.
2. Urine testing for dietary adherence and response
Urine testing was historically only available in the healthcare setting to test for infections, diseases, drugs, glucose or ketones for example. In the DTC the home-testing market, new solutions have sprung up with kits used for infections and STD's. Whilst urine has never been used to test for dietary metabolites in everyday practice, this is changing owing to advances in technology. These advances combined with a rise in consumer interest in home testing and non-invasive solutions have opened up the opportunity to use urine testing as a prevention or intervention tool where personalised dietary advice and recommendation based on the individual's unique metabolic profile is part of the product. A study published last year demonstrated that it was possible to distinguish between a "healthy" and unhealthy dietary pattern, whilst new players have demonstrated effectiveness of testing for specific markers such as magnesium, folate and vitamin C. Current Examples include Melico (UK) and Vessel (US). Promising, however awareness, education and changing mindsets may be key challenges here.
3. Nutrition experts on tap
It is well known that it is quite easy to see a dietitian or other nutrition expert when you are sick. But when you are looking for expert advice to stay healthy or optimize your health, you'll need to pay out of pocket. With a sudden rise in interest in health and nutrition, many companies are offering expert nutrition support either free, or at a low rate as part of their solutions. This is a great move as it increases access to expert knowledge, and the chance to offer practical tips on how to adopt healthy behaviours and integrate a solutions into their lives. Companies such as Persona and Biohm are great examples.
4. Snap it! Image- based logging gets popular
Image or picture-based logging and tracking has been around for a number of years. Many of the original criticism stemmed from its questionable accuracy, however as with everything in life and tech, things get better. In fact, a recent study using an AI image based dietary assessment tool, performed better than experienced dietitians in assessing dietary composition based on known food databases. In many instances, image based food logging can provide great insight into food behaviours, diet quality as well as offer an alternative solution for those embracing intuitive eating where a nutritional breakdown is not the focus.
5. Retailers as the gateway to health
This is a trend that has been bubbling away for years with retailers increasingly adopting a Health & wellness strategy. However the COVID pandemic has sped up this transition according to a recent report, with retailers playing a key role in access to fresh foods, information on health, and signposting customers to product information and how it impacts their health. Initial small steps toward offering personalised nutrition advice was limited to in-store shopping tours and cooking demo's, this is now changing rapidly. With consumers more interested in food labels and in tracking their health, retailers are increasingly offering health clinics, access to virtual dietitians, and as a result of the impact of COVID on food security, online shopping and nutrition guidance for individuals on food subsistence programs. This is such a great move, however I am yet to see this in Europe. Examples include retail health clinic offered by CVS & Walmart, personalised nutrition solutions offered by Foodsmart (formerly Zipongo), and the recent integration of nutrition telehealth platform Healthie into Hy-vee chains. It shows that the solutions are already available, but it's the strategic partnerships that make personalised nutrition a reality.
That's it for now, but we expect that owing to the new ways of living and working, many consumers will continuously experiment with new ways to make those healthy habits stick for the long term. Do look out for future posts on the trends in the rapidly evolving personalised nutrition industry on our blog and weekly newsletter.