Precision Nutrition for low- and-middle-income countries (LMICs)

Countries : Malawi


Precision Nutrition (PN) for public health aims to improve data collection, analysis, and treatment options for the benefit of risk groups. 

A one-size-fits-all approach in public health nutrition has come under scrutiny in recent years, with evidence of negative outcomes from untargeted nutrition interventions. At the same time, new sophisticated technologies that can accurately quantitate human health and nutritional status promise to better inform interventions and reduce unintended harm. 

PN is an approach that uses rigorous scientific information on an individual’s characteristics and environment. This precise information is used to develop targeted, accessible, affordable, and desirable nutrition solutions which offer measurable individualized benefit. To adapt this definition to LMICs, the targeted solutions will address the most pressing nutrition challenges faced in low-resource settings. 

Our current initiatives include:

  • Metabolomics. SAL has identified omics, a high-throughput PN tool, as a critical approach for collecting precise dietary intake and nutritional status data to inform targeted treatments. Specifically, in Malawi, SAL is taking a metabolomics approach to assess the impact of the social marketing strategy of the Egg Hub. Learn more about the ‘eggciting’ work here and here. 
  • Precision Nutrition for low- and middle-income countries (PN for LMIC) Impact pot 4: In 2021, SAL became a member of the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley (SFNV). SAL currently leads impact pot 4 in collaboration with SFNV and other institutions such as EPFL, Nestle and York Consumer Health. The aim of the working group is to make PN more accessible, affordable, and desirable to LMICs as an approach to tackle the most pressing nutrition challenges of today. To date, a needs assessment that examined the relevance of PN to tackle nutrition challenges in LMIC has been conducted with local experts and opinion leaders and a virtual workshop was held in November 2022. 
  • Next steps include identification of potential proof of concept projects for vulnerable populations in need.
  • SAL Special Report. Throughout 2022, SAL has worked on the recently published Sight and Life Special Report: Precision Nutrition for LMIC: hype or hope? Here, expert contributors helped us gather and further build the evidence base to bring PN to LMIC communities, and highlighted experience from the field and the resources needed for scale up. Topics covered included nutrient status biomarkers, isotypes, omics, point-of-need and care diagnostics, artificial intelligence, and more. 

Projects in Stage 3: Scaling business models to end public health challenges