Consumers on the Internet: ethical and legal aspects of commercialization of personalized nutrition

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Consumers often have a positive attitude to the option of receiving personalized nutrition advice based upon genetic testing, since the prospect of enhancing or maintaining one’s health can be perceived as empowering. Current direct-to-consumer services over the Internet, however, suffer from a questionable level of truthfulness and consumer protection, in addition to an imbalance between far-reaching promises and contrasting disclaimers. Psychological and behavioral studies indicate that consumer acceptance of a new technology is primarily explained by the end user’s rational and emotional interpretation as well as moral beliefs. Results from such studies indicate that personalized nutrition must create true value for the consumer. Also, the freedom to choose is crucial for consumer acceptance. From an ethical point of view, consumer protection is crucial, and caution must be exercised when putting nutrigenomic-based tests and advice services on the market. Current Internet offerings appear to reveal a need to further guaranty legal certainty by ensuring privacy, consumer protection and safety. Personalized nutrition services are on the borderline between nutrition and medicine. Current regulation of this area is incomplete and undergoing development. This situation entails the necessity for carefully assessing and developing existing rules that safeguard fundamental rights and data protection while taking into account the sensitivity of data, the risks posed by each step in their processing, and sufficient guarantees for consumers against potential misuse.


  • Jennie Ahlgren
  • Anders Nordgren
  • Maud Perrudin
  • Amber Ronteltap
  • Jean Savigny
  • Hans van Trijp
  • Karin Nordström
  • Ulf Görman
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ethics


  • personalized nutrition, direct-to-consumer, nutrigenomic tests, attitudes, consumer acceptance, ethics, legal regulation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-355
JournalGenes & Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)