Every week, I think the news in the industry cannot be topped, but I am always wrong and this week is no different. From investment round in DayTwo and Noom, to latest research, consumer trends, and book releases.
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Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease: How Far Are We from Personalized CVD Risk Prediction and Management?
“Despite the rapid progress in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD), this disease remains a major cause of mortality and morbidity. Recent progress over the last two decades in the field of molecular genetics, especially with new tools such as genome-wide association studies, has helped to identify new genes and their variants, which can be used for calculations of risk, prediction of treatment efficacy, or detection of subjects prone to drug side effects. Although the use of genetic risk scores further improves CVD prediction, the significance is not unambiguous, and some subjects at risk remain undetected. Further research directions should focus on the "second-level" of genetic information, namely, regulatory molecules (miRNAs) and epigenetic changes, predominantly DNA methylation, and gene-environment interactions.”
This study included 4930 participants (ages 25-74; 53% women) of the FINRISK 2002 study. It aimed to assess associations between healthy food choices (evaluation by a food propensity questionnaire) and human gut microbiota composition (alpha diversity and beta diversity) and to determine the association with functional potential (HFC score). The results show "Both microbial alpha diversity (β/SD, 0.044; SE, 6.18 × 10-5; P = 2.21 × 10-3) and beta diversity (R2, 0.12; P ≤ 1.00 × 10-3) were associated with the HFC score. For alpha diversity, the strongest associations were observed for fiber-rich bread, poultry, fruit, and low-fat cheeses (all positive). For beta diversity, the most prominent associations were observed for vegetables, followed by berries and fruits. Genera with fiber-degrading and SCFA-producing capacities were positively associated with the HFC score. The HFC score was associated positively with functions such as SCFA metabolism and synthesis, and inversely with functions such as fatty acid biosynthesis and the sulfur relay system".
Effect on gut microbiota of a 1-y lifestyle intervention with Mediterranean diet compared with energy-reduced Mediterranean diet and physical activity promotion: PREDIMED-Plus Study
This substudy of the PREDIMED-Plus aimed to "investigate the effect of an intensive lifestyle weight loss intervention on gut microbiota". Composed of two population groups, "the intervention group (IG) underwent an intensive weight loss lifestyle intervention based on an energy-restricted Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and physical activity promotion, and the control group (CG) underwent a non-energy-restricted MedDiet for 1 y". The results show: "IG participants had a weight loss of 4.2 kg compared with 0.2 kg in the CG. Reductions in BMI, fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin, and triglycerides, and an increase in HDL cholesterol were greater in IG than in CG participants. We observed a decrease in Butyricicoccus, Haemophilus, Ruminiclostridium 5, and Eubacterium hallii in the IG compared with the CG. Many genera shifted in the same direction within both intervention groups, indicating an overall effect of the MedDiet. Decreases in Haemophilus, Coprococcus 3, and few other genera were associated with a decrease in adiposity parameters in both intervention groups. Changes in Lachnospiraceae NK4A136 were positively associated with changes in MedDiet adherence".
Associations between obesity-related gene expression in maternal and cord blood and newborn adiposity: findings from the Araraquara Cohort study
This study included 25 overweight/obese and 32 normal-weight pregnant women and investigated:
(1) obesity-related gene expression (LEPR, STAT3, PPARG, TLR4, IL-6, IL-10, FTO, MC4R, TNF-α, and NFκB) in maternal and cord blood of overweight/obese and normal-weight pregnant women;
(2) associations between obesity-related gene expression in maternal and cord blood; and,
(3) associations of gene expression in each of maternal and cord blood with newborn adiposity (weight, BMI, and fat mass%). The results show: "there was higher TLR4, NFκB, and TNF-a expression, and lower IL-6 expression, in overweight/obese pregnant women and their respective newborns compared with normal-weight women and their newborns. Maternal PPARG gene expression was associated with both weight and fat mass % of the newborns, and cord blood IL-10 expression was associated with BMI and fat mass %, controlling for confounders".
Health Equity Tracker is a platform developed by the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. It highlights the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized communities. This tracker allows the visualization on the scale (from a whole-country view down to the county level) of COVID-19 cases in the USA. By the number of deaths and hospitalizations across race and ethnicity, sex, and age. Also, "the Health Equity Tracker allows users to view different conditions and determinants that have led to unequal COVID-19 outcomes, including COPD, diabetes, poverty, and uninsured rates. It can also be used to compare outcomes in different locations." This tracker/ platform was developed in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Google.org, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the CDC Foundation.
Noom Announces $540 Million in Growth Funding to Further Accelerate Expansion of its Digital Health Platform
“Noom, the leading digital health platform focused on behavior change, today announced its approximately $540 million Series F funding led by Silver Lake. Other new investors participating in the round include Oak HC/FT, Temasek, and Novo Holdings. Existing investors Sequoia Capital, RRE, and Samsung Ventures also participated. Noom applies a highly-differentiated, psychology-based approach to health and wellness by harnessing behavior change and technology to create long-term positive health outcomes.”
“The first precision digital therapeutics platform using ethnic and gender-specific genomics and gut microbiome risks and insights helps Blue Shield of California members improve mental health endpoints. Digbi Health today announced topline results from a real-world study of 275 people evaluating Digbi Health’s efficacy in reducing mental health severity among people struggling with weight and other inflammatory chronic conditions.”
“Israeli startup DayTwo, a company that developed a personalized health platform based on the gut microbiome, raised $37 million this week to continue developing solutions that help people improve their health and manage diabetes and other metabolic diseases through nutrition, the company announced. “
A self-test that detects traces of peanut or hazelnut in a product has been developed by Wageningen University & Research. This "portable mini-lab'' aims to make chemical analysis accessible to consumers: by putting a piece of food (for example a biscuit) into the immunoassay test, if the product has allergens present, a black line appears on the test, similar to a quick test. Then for detailed test results, consumers can connect the test to a smartphone.
Pre-diabetes concept: Blood sugar management trial in Singapore revealed by DSM-backed Hologram Sciences
Hologram Sciences is developing a trial in Singapore that aims to study how personalized approaches (on lifestyle and behavior) can help with pre-diabetes concerns (food choices, diet, and exercise). "The trial will test an app which has a live coaching function, combined with a proprietary ingredient to help control blood sugar and a healthy diet to help prevent the onset of diabetes or even reverse pre-diabetes". The trial will begin in June or July 2021.
Join us for the upcoming not-to be missed Personalised nutrition Summit where we are speaking and judging!
Food & Consumer Trends
Snacking is a hot trend, according to Glanbia Nutritionals. The reasons include cultural shifts, more regular snacking because of COVID-19 pandemic, and the upending of usual food rituals (nowadays people are interested in developing their palate and quench their curiosity about food). Interesting data is that according to Glanbia: - "51 percent of global consumers have switched from traditional snack products, like chocolate, to high protein or low sugar alternatives (...); - millennials, in particular, are driving this interest in high-protein snacks which provide satiety and work well as meal replacements. The bar category continues to be strongly affected by this trend, with protein bars leading category growth(...) -64 % of global consumers believe indulgent snacking is acceptable as part of a healthy diet, while 54 percent indicate they expect snacks to offer a nutritional boost. (...) - [and] while the plant-based protein segment is considered a niche market compared to dairy-based protein, consumer interest and demand are growing exponentially".
‘Diet’ is no longer about preparing for swimsuit season, it is ‘a tool for well-being … to achieve broader goals of feeling healthy and high-functioning’
Research from New Hope Network's NEXT Data & Insights has shown "that consumers are adopting a more flexible and holistic approach to "dieting", and brands have the opportunity to launch and innovate new products. Special concerns for the food industry: alternative sweeteners and less quantity of refined sugar (products sweetened with stevia increased their sales by 31% in 2020), allergen-free products, and cleaner and simpler food products with Non-GMO.
According to Whole Foods Market, "in the laid-back days of summer, we find that customers are breaking out of their routines and are more open to trying something new". Plant-based eating is a category that is still growing. With this in mind, Whole Foods has picked five plant-based trends to watch this summer: 1) Alternative cheeses; 2) Plant-based BBQ; 3) Plant-based products for kids; 4) Plant-based seafood (for example sticks of fish or no-tuna sandwiches), and 5) Dairy-free products.
Resources - New book release
I have not read this book yet, but it is certainly very topical and highlights the need for a better connection between our food and healthcare system.
"Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine", is the new book by Dr. Robert Lustig. “He explains the eight pathologies that underlie all chronic disease, documents how processed food has impacted them to ruin our health, economy, and environment over the past 50 years, and proposes an urgent manifesto and strategy to cure both us and the planet.”