Podcast: AI-powered nutrition devices could cut exploding obesity rates. Will FDA rules keep them off the market?

screenshot a new role for the fda in medical device regulation policy paper pdf

The US has gotten fat. Since 1980, obesity in the US has climbed from a manageable 11 percent to somewhere between 30-40 percent. So-called lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes have followed a similar trend, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

Americans know they have a weight problem, too. Each year, consumers spend $33 billion on weight loss products and 45 million people go on diets — most of whom fail to keep the extra pounds off long term. The problem is compounded by ever-changing nutrition guidelines and unsustainable fad diets pushed by TV personalities, movie stars and internet health gurus — most unqualified to offer weight loss advice.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list highlights 'meaningless distinctions' between organic and conventional foods

What can be done about this pressing public health issue? Among the proposed solutions, medical devices powered by artificial intelligence could help overweight and obese people customize diets based on their biomarkers. Biomarkers — measurements including blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure — are metrics that  help doctors evaluate a patient’s risk of developing a disease and devising proper medical treatment.

unnamed
Richard Williams

Some companies already provide consumers with biomarker-based nutrition advice. San Francisco-based startup Habit offers a subscription-service that analyzes how people respond to carbohydrates, fat and protein and creates a diet suited to their needs. As our understanding of the human genome and individual physiological response to different nutrients improves, AI-powered devices could offer increasingly customized data based on an individual’s unique genetic makeup.

Mass collection of genetic data and the advance of artificial intelligence raises understandable privacy concerns among consumer advocates and regulators. As a result, stringent oversight from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one of the primary roadblocks to getting more personalized nutrition devices on the market. On this episode of Biotech Facts and Fallacies, economist Richard Williams joins GLP editor Cameron English to discuss the future of these AI-powered devices as one possible solution to the obesity epidemic.

Richard A. Williams, PhD, is an economist and author. He served as the Chief Social Scientist at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for 27 years. Visit his website and follow him on LinkedIn

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. He co-hosts the Biotech Facts and Fallacies podcast. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend