Across the world, it is increasingly being realized that the optimization of health and wellness via the diet does not obey to the “one size fits all” rule. Indeed, there is growing appreciation that different individuals may respond differently to specific foods and food components, both in the short term and in the long term. Moreover, through the life course, various groups can be identified that each have their specific nutritional requirements, including infants, children, elderly, specific patient groups, athletes, and women vs. men.
Currently, the dietary guidelines and recommended dietary allowances focus on the general population and do not sufficiently take into account group-based and individual traits and needs. The guidelines are fixated on the long term effects of nutrition and the link with chronic diseases , thereby failing to take into account the short term effects of foods on physical and mental well-being and performance. A major revamping is needed, leading to a new research model characterized by a stronger focus on specific groups and on the individual, and by closer attention to the effects of foods and food components on physical and mental well-being and performance. The aim of this theme is to better characterize the nutritional needs of specific groups and individuals and to develop and apply the appropriate research methodology to advance our understanding of the functional effects of nutrients, foods, and diets at the individual and group level. The ultimate aim is to generate new leads for future products that can specifically target well-being, health and performance at the group and individual level.