Fournier T. and Poulain J.P. 2018, Eating According to One’s Genes? A Qualitative Exploration of the French Public’s Understanding of and Reactions to Personalized Nutrition, Qualitative Health Research, 1-13.

Fournier T. and Poulain J.P. (2018) Qualitative Health Research, DOI: 10.1177/1049732318793417

Full text (on line or .pdf) – Sage journals


In this article, we analyze qualitatively the understanding of and reactions to personalized nutrition (PN) among the French public. Focus groups were conducted to identify the opinions and discourses about two applications of knowledge from nutritional (epi)genomics: a biotechnology (nutrigenetic testing) and a public awareness campaign (the “first thousand days of life” initiative). Our objective was to understand to what extent PN could lead to changes in eating practices as well as in the representations of food–health relationships within France, a country characterized by a strong commitment to commensality and a certain “nutritional relativism.” Although discourses on nutritional genomics testify to a resistance to food medicalization, nutritional epigenomics appears as more performative because it introduces the question of transgenerational transmission, thus parental responsibility.

Keywords:  eating pattern, epigenomics, food–health relationships, France, nutrigenomics, parental responsibility, personalized nutrition, public awareness campaign, Western Europe, qualitative methods, research design, focus groups

Author Biographies:

Tristan Fournier is a research fellow in sociology at the French national centre for scientific research in Paris, Iris (UMR8156). Read more

Jean-Pierre Poulain is a professor in sociology and anthropology at the University of Toulouse, (France). He conducts research in the sociology of food, focusing on the changes of eating patterns, their links with health and food crises under the CERTOP UMR-CNRS 5044. He currently holds the Chair of Food Studies, jointly created by the University of Toulouse and Taylor’s University; Kuala Lumpur, (Malaysia) and co-directs the International Associated Laboratory (LIA-CNRS) “Food, Cultures and Health”.
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