Rights: The University of Waikato Published 1 May 2006 Download

Is it more likely that people will change what they eat, or that new supplements and medicines will be produced as a result of this research?



Te Aroha College: Will nutrigenomics lead to people changing their diets or would it lead to supplements or medicines being produced?

Lynn Ferguson (Nutrigenomics New Zealand)

I would hope that for most people, it would lead to them thinking about their diet and possibly changing it. But as perhaps we’ve mentioned, there are some situations where probably a supplement or a medicine is going to be necessary. I know people in New Zealand are a bit nervous about that, and I wouldn’t imagine it would be a lot of people [that require the supplements], but there may well be cases where that might be important.

Te Aroha College: Would these potential treatments be likely to have a side effect?

Lynn Ferguson

Oh, I hope not. That’s the nice thing about nutrition-based advice. It’s not like the very specific targeting that occurs with developing a medicine.

It has got all the interactions in a normal food so I would hope it didn't have side effects.

Jim Kaput (The NCMHD Centre of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics)

By the way we already have side effects if you eat too many calories or have too much fat or too much sugar you can get obese. I mean that happens like today. So clearly eating the normal things we do today can change a lot if you really think about what you are eating.

Lynn Ferguson

I think if it’s really going to work, we’ve got a whole new way of thinking in New Zealand, and other countries. So, for example, we really do have to have dieticians who understand why certain people need specific nutrients, and work with them in terms of developing that. If we do uncover genes which mean you’ve got susceptibility to something, you don’t really want to know about, then we’ve got to have genetic counsellors to work there. So it’s not like a doctor or a nurse telling you, you know, You take drug “X” for a week three times a day and you’ll be right. It’s much more a lifestyle interaction, and I think as a community we’ve got work out how to bring these into play and benefit the population.

Jim Kaput

Actually, the hope is that if we could tell you that you are susceptible to a certain disease or to a certain type of health performance, then you will take the initiative. But it will be up to you. We are not going to dictate. At least I don’t think we should dictate as a society how that works.