Is a future where our diets are guided by personalized nutrition using apps and algorithms possible?
What if one-size dietary guidelines like food pyramids and nutrition labels were replaced by individual eating habits guided by personalized nutrition? Our bodies react differently to food for a variety of reasons, so using personalized data to figure out which foods to avoid and which to embrace could lead people to healthier lives. This is what The Economist would like us to envision in the year 2035 in its “What If?” series, which considers the future of health in imagined scenarios. Theoretically, we’ll spend the 2020s using apps and algorithms developed by tech companies to identify what people should eat and wearing devices and implants that track our nutrition and blood-glucose levels to inform us about weight gain and metabolic disorders. By 2031, obesity will have fallen, and we’ll all have smart fridges linked to a personal nutrition account. Access to this new technology would likely be unaffordable for most, but The Economist says discounts will be given to users who provide companies with their user data (yes, we have an eyebrow raised). There’s also this line: “Many take a dim view of the whole idea, because of conspiracy theories that doctors are struggling to dispel.” Sounds familiar. Let’s just say we’re not eating any of this up.