Probiota Asia 2018

'Data is power': Danone Nutricia lauds the importance of machine learning to provide precision nutrition

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Puspita Roy from Danone Nutricia presenting at Probiota Asia 2018.
Puspita Roy from Danone Nutricia presenting at Probiota Asia 2018.

Related tags Danone Research Data Technology

The importance of digital technology and machine learning as a means to provide precise, tailored nutrition took centre-stage at Probiota Asia 2018, as Danone revealed some of the pioneering research it is undertaking in Singapore.

Puspita Roy, Senior Digital Programme Leader, Danone Nutricia Research said: “It is important to bring the right tailored (precision) nutrition to the right people, […] and we want to focus on how to use digital technology [to do this]."

“Precision nutrition [is essentially] a combination of the right products at the right dosages to the right consumers at the right time to give the right benefits. There is no one size fits all solution.”

‘How we see digital technology’s role in all of this is in the application. Data is power, and more data can accelerate innovations, strengthen products and increase efficiency,”​ said Roy

Bridging the void

Roy highlighted that the average user in South East Asia spends 3.6 hours on their mobile phone today, and the majority of this time is used on apps.

“Times are different, and no longer is the doctor the first point of contact when one gets sick,” she added.

“Now the internet comes first, parents especially will turn to Dr Google or social media in search of solutions."

“What we want to do is provide integrated solutions that can bridge the void between consumers and healthcare professionals, providing personalised precision solutions via technologies like apps.”

The importance of localisation when it comes to research and data was also emphasised.

“Asian babies are very different from Caucasian babies, and we know we cannot [just use the same data]. It is very necessary to generate local data,”​ stated Roy.

Colic in the spotlight

Roy also highlighted a device currently being developed in partnership with the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) Research Foundation that aims to identify and thus provide the right interventions to help babies with colic.

“When a baby suffers from colic and cries or fusses, the parents are affected, and the quality of life of the entire family decreases,”​ said Roy.

“Colic subsides by the time the child is six months old. This means it often goes unnoticed as the child’s fussing and crying could be attributed to other areas of parenting or other reasons.”

“However, research has shown that these six months of stress have long-term effects, causing the baby and parents to become detached.”

Babies with colic tend to fuss for more than three hours, causing even more stress to the parents. The device can differentiate between babies’ crying and fussing via an algorithm, with over 90% of accuracy so far.

“So far, we have found that the device generates a large amount of objective, tangible data. This is the kind of data we hope to be shared with doctors in order to get tangible advice, so as to provide the right support for the right baby.”

Digitalisation and data ecosystem

One of the main ideas that it is hoped digitalisation will drive is the development of a data ecosystem to drive precision nutrition.

“With data as our core asset, we want a data ecosystem comprising everything from demographic data to clinical and biomarker data,”​ said Roy.

“This aside, the secret recipe here is how to utilise the data, to establish better connections with parents, healthcare professionals, stakeholders and so on to bring tailored nutrition to the next level.”

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