LSU Health New Orleans, Pennington Biomedical Use AI to Unlock a Person’s Ideal Diet

September 20, 2022

Fighting Food-related Health Disparities

LSU Health New Orleans and LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center recently partnered to leverage new technologies, including artificial intelligence, or AI, in the fight against diet-related disease and health disparities in Louisiana. They joined the largest-ever national effort to leverage big data science for precision health, the Nutrition for Precision Health study.

“‘This is what your body does in response to food,’ that’s what we’ll be able to tell our patients,” said Dr. Lucio Miele at LSU Health New Orleans. “Having quantitative data will make all the difference.”

In Louisiana, more than one in three residents has obesity while every seventh adult has been diagnosed with diabetes. While the cost and consequences of diet-related (metabolic) disease are rather clear, the solutions are often more complicated than recommendations to “eat less and exercise more,” the LSU researchers argue. For example, some of us live in neighborhoods known as food deserts where healthy options and access to fresh fruits and vegetables are limited.

Also, it can be tricky to establish an ideal diet for any individual since there are so many variables. Beyond differences in genetics, metabolism, physiology, microbes in the gut, and behavior—particular to any one person—there are also socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors.

“In Louisiana, we have a lot of metabolic disease and a lot of diversity, so if you want to study how all of these factors come together, you have to do it in Louisiana,” said Dr. Miele.

AI-generated image of a figure surrounded by food

Personalized diets based on individual differences in genetics, metabolism, physiology, microbes in the gut, behavior, and other factors could help doctors and dietitians prevent and treat diet-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. The image above was generated by AI based on keywords: personalized diet, healthy food, genomics.


“As dietitians, personalized nutrition is not a new concept for us. However, the data from the LSU AI study could be a gamechanger because we could dive deeper based on gut microbiome and genomics. We could tailor our nutrition prescription more so than ever before.”

Kathryn Fakier, registered and licensed dietitian at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and director of the dietetic internship program at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge