Researchers develop new framework for human nutrition

From University of Sydney:

Existing models for measuring health impacts of the human diet are limiting our capacity to solve obesity and its related health problems, claim two of the world’s leading nutritional scientists in their newest research.

In the latest edition of Annual Review of Nutrition, Professor David Raubenheimer and Professor Stephen Simpson from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre call for a radical rethinking of human nutrition science through a new framework called ‘nutritional geometry’ – the culmination of more than 20 years of research in the field.

‘Nutritional geometry’ considers how mixtures of nutrients and other dietary components influence health and disease, rather than focusing on any one nutrient in isolation. It is hoped this new model will assist health professionals, dietitians and researchers to better understand and manage the complexities of obesity.

“Our framework throws down the gauntlet to the whole field of human nutrition. It shows that the prevailing focus on single nutrients is not able to help us understand complex chronic diseases, and that an approach based on nutrient balance can help solve the problem,” said Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre.

Human nutrition science has historically focused on a single-nutrient approach, which is predicated on a lack of resources or micronutrient deficiency. For instance, the absence of vitamin C in human diets is a known cause of scurvy.

But this traditional approach is no longer useful in the face of modern nutrition-related diseases, the authors argue, which are driven by an overabundance of food, an evolved fondness for foods containing particular blends of nutrients, and savvy marketing by the packaged food industry which exploits these preferences.

“Conventional thinking which demonises fat, carbohydrate or sugar in isolation as causes of the obesity crisis – dubbed the single nutrient approach – has now …

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