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Personalized nutrition and social justice: ethical considerations within four future scenarios applying the perspective of Nussbaum's capabilities approach

By K. Nordstrom, J. Goossens

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Abstract

The idea of personalized nutrition (PN) is to give tailored dietary advice based on personal health-related data, i.e. phenotype, genotype, or lifestyle. PN may be seen as part of a general trend towards personalised health care and currently various types of business models are already offering such services in the market. This paper explores ethical issues of PN by examining how PN services within the contextual environment of four future scenarios about health and nutrition in Europe might affect aspects of social justice according to Martha Nussbaum's capability approach. The scenarios have been created by a mixed group of stakeholders and experts in three consecutive workshops. This resulted in the definition of four future scenarios within a scenario space consisting of two variables: the 'logic of health care systems' and 'conception of health'. Within each scenario, PN is likely to play a more or less important role in improving health by influencing food consumption patterns in society. Nussbaum's capability approach implies a concept of social justice as a function of a minimum standard of human dignity. This denotes an account for equality in terms of a minimum of entitlements. However, also the ability of achieving individual objectives is essential for social justice. Personalisation advice in health and food consumption patterns, as aimed for by PN, is therefore acceptable provided a minimum of entitlements is guaranteed to all members of a society, and at the same time freedom concerning personal preferences is respected. Potential variation of how different people might benefit from PN should therefore be consistent with the minimum required as defined by the list of capabilities.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 29
Issue 1
Pages 5-22
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9589-0
Language English
Author Address Jonkoping University, Box 1026, 511 11, Jonkoping, Sweden.karin.nordstrom@ju.se jgoossens@bio-sense.be
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Tags
  1. Animals
  2. Consumption
  3. Countries
  4. Developed countries
  5. Diets
  6. Ethics
  7. Europe
  8. Food consumption
  9. Humans
  10. Mammals
  11. Men
  12. Nutrition
  13. OECD countries
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Primates
  16. Scandinavia
  17. Sweden
  18. vertebrates
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  1. peer-reviewed