Healthy nutrition

From youth obesity to malnutrition among the elderly, the need for healthy nutrition is greater than ever. Based on a multidisciplinary approach, Wageningen University & Research provides manufacturers, government bodies and social organisations with insights that allow them to help consumers make conscious choices.

Health awareness among consumers has increased over recent decades. More and more people know that fibres are good for intestinal health and that they should use sugar and salt sparingly. Nonetheless, many people’s diets could still be improved, as is shown by the alarming increase in the number of cases of obesity and diabetes among both children and adults. At the same time, the growing elderly population is at risk of malnutrition. The challenge of making the healthy choice the easy choice for all these groups lies with manufacturers, government authorities and social organisations.

Proven health benefits

Wageningen University & Research provides organisations with the insights they need to develop proven healthy or healthier products and information campaigns which teach people how to adopt and maintain a healthy diet. We do so using a multidisciplinary approach that combines fundamental and applied research. We study the effects of ingredients, food products and diets on health – both in gastrointestinal models in the lab and in human volunteers – and develop efficient screening tools to, for example, measure the digestibility of fibres or the biological availability of protein in dairy drinks.

We also research the effects of food and lifestyle factors related to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition, we analyse which factors affect food selection and eating behaviour. This includes issues such as what gets people’s attention on supermarket shelves, whether consumers can actually taste that the salt content of a product has been reduced, and whether they eat as much of it at home as they would the original product. We also use advanced ICT to develop new concepts for personalised food advice.

Research projects

Wageningen University & Research is involved in various initiatives in the Netherlands and abroad. This includes studying the effects of nutritional fibres on the immune system, and monitoring the diet and health of mothers and infants in Africa. Together with other knowledge partners, we research the relationship between nutrition, the brain and cognitive afflictions such as dementia, ADHD and depression. In cooperation with health care professionals and companies in the Netherlands, we have developed intervention programmes for the elderly, in which seniors take structural strength training and eat extra protein for stronger muscles and enhanced endurance. We also work on solutions to increase people’s vegetable consumption, for instance by serving vegetables as a snack during meetings.