Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Ethical issues raised by personalized nutrition based on genetic information

  • Ulf Görman


Four principles are taken as basis for the ethical analysis: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice. Health is understood as a limited aspect of wellbeing. Food is understood as an important aspect of wellbeing, not only an instrument for health. Modern society is characterized by a tendency to identify wellbeing with external rather than subjective circumstances, to identify wellbeing with health, and to create exaggerated health expectations. Based upon this understanding, aspects of personalized nutrition are discussed: genetic testing, counselling, and development of special dietary products. Today the predictive value of genetic tests for personal nutrition is limited, and experimental at best. Recommendations for the future: Personalized nutrition must be based on solid knowledge. Phenotypic analyses should be used when adequate. When a genetic test can have a clear advantage, this should be preferred. Opportunistic screening should only be used when clearly beneficial. Specially trained persons should collect information from genetic tests and carry through councelling on a personal basis. Marketing of genetic tests directly sold to the public should be discouraged. Development of special products for personalized nutrition may be necessary in some cases. However, this may also lead to a medicalization of diet.

Key words

Ethics Genetic test Health Nutritional genomics Personalized nutrition Wellbeing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EthicsLund UniversityLund, Sweden

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