This field aims to formulate nutritional recommendations better adapted to the changing and interactive parameters of the internal and external environment of a person throughout his/her life. This research is essential to identify the most effective nutritional interventions for reducing the risk of chronic diseases for each individual.
The themes and objectives of Field 1 are:
- Identify the genetic variations involved in the metabolic response to nutrients/food profiles in clinical trials by taking into account the environmental factors that could mediate these interactions.
- Understand the mechanisms by which genetic variations influence response to diet in functional genomic studies on cellular, animal and tissue models/metabolic samples collected from humans, including blood, feces as well as adipose, intestinal and liver tissues.
- Identify gene-diet interactions associated to metabolic health in the context of important population-based cross-sectional and prospective studies.
- Identify epigenetic factors involved in the adaptation process to the environment in the broadest sense of the term, with an emphasis on nutritional factors, in in vitro models, animal models and in cohort studies.
- Study the role of epigenetic factors in the metabolic response and adaptation to nutritional modifications in the context of clinical trials.
- Examine the potential of epigenetic factors as markers of observance for modifications in eating habits.
- Improve measures of food intake, evaluate exposure to nutrients or to specific components and quantify adherence to nutrition interventions and treatments.
- Develop and validate tools for food assessment
- Examine in a systematic way the usefulness of nutritional biomarkers as predictors of the interindividual variability of cardiometabolic response to dietary changes.
Intestinal microbiota and metabolic health
- Study the interrelations between intake of specific nutrients/bioactive components, the intestinal microbiota and the production of microbial metabolites derived from diet.
- Examine functional, bidirectional, and cause-effect relationships between changes in the intestinal microbiota and its derived metabolites, the endocannabinoidome, metabolic health and brain health.
- Test predictive models of the impact of eating and its components on the intestinal microbiota and metabolic health by exploiting artificial intelligence and big data.
- Study the ethical and legal issues associated with research on the microbiota.
This field aims to study the behavioural determinants that influence diet quality at the individual level, notably in vulnerable groups of the population like overweight and obese people and low socioeconomic status populations. The interdisciplinary nature of field 2, which combines notably ethnology of food, communication, ethics, economy and consumption as well as psychology which is essential to better understand these phenomena.
The themes and objectives of field 2 are:
Decision-making processes related to food choices
- Further develop knowledge on the relationship between cultural practices associated with the food heritage and food choices made by consumers, with particular interest for respecting the autonomy of the eater and the legitimacy of calling upon tradition as ethical justification for food practices and choices.
- Identify the determinants of food choices in experimental contexts resembling a real-life context like during purchases at a grocery store, at the cafeteria or at a restaurant.
- Evaluate decision-making behaviours guiding food choices according to characteristics used to describe food like the pleasure of eating, health and sustainable development, and according to the profiles of the persons and underlying motivational processes.
- Analyses the internal discourse as a determinant element of eating behaviour related to nutritional misinformation omnipresent on social media.
- Document biographical events at the source of problematic and pathological food behaviours.
- Document, in a natural habitat, relationships between emotions, daily stressors and the adoption of problematic and pathological food behaviours.
- Study the diversity of responses to interventions by characterising, among others, the neurobehavioural factors of individuals that respond best to a nutritional intervention in order to improve its effectiveness.
- Identify the facilitating factors and barriers to adopting healthy eating habits.
- Identify the determinants and elements of maintaining long term healthy eating habits as well as the optimal conditions and synergies that can be applied in the context of an intervention in order to support adequately maintaining long term food changes.
Focused on societal needs, the objectives that researchers from Field 3 pursue are articulated around themes that aim to better understand the bidirectional relationships and influences between the contextual factors and the diet of the population, with particular attention to more vulnerable groups of the population towards healthy eating.
The themes and objectives of Field 3 are:
- Study the natural or built environments as well as physical access to good quality foods at a provincial level and in different living environments, like in childcare centres as well as schools and institutions.
- Identify the types of food to target as part of public health strategies to help consumers maximise the nutritional quality of their food purchases while minimizing their expenses.
- Study the impacts of the availability terms of supplies at the point of purchase in order to identify the risk factors, but also the levers of intervention in the economic environment of supply.
Political and legal environment
- Understand how public policies, laws and regulations shape our diet.
- Study the policies that support innovation initiatives from food companies, the legal framework of the market entry of their products, the execution of the right to food and the commercial release allowing physical access and the economic benefits, for companies and the society.
- Study the impact of public policy instruments in regard to purchasing behaviour, which will simultaneously allow evaluating existing approaches, but also testing the effectiveness and the potential of public policy scenarios.
- Characterise the extent of the phenomenon of disinformation in nutrition in a numerical context.
- Study the issues related to food literacy and media literacy to identify the most vulnerable populations to disinformation in nutrition.
- Develop robust analysis tools of credibility of information in nutrition present on social media and support health professionals and the population in making informed decisions regarding nutrition.
- Reflect on the sense of social practice in nutrition and its various forms; a reflection that could allow bringing nutrition closer to society.
- Study the relationship between diet and health in our population and examine how all environmental factors influence this association.
- Study the nutritional and environmental factors associated with social inequalities in health.