New Zealand - Fertile ground for functional foods and nutrigenomics
Ferguson LR., Philpott M.
Nutrition-related disorders including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and various cancers rank highly among the causes of death and disability in New Zealand, with significant differences between racial groups in disease susceptibility. While the bulk of the population are Caucasians, a significant proportion are of Polynesian origins, including both Maori and Pacific Island groups, with an increasing Asian immigrant population. Maori have significantly lower colon cancer and significantly higher stomach, breast, lung and pancreatic cancers in comparison with the rest of the population. Both diabetes and cardiovascular disease develop at an earlier age in both Polynesian and Asian groups as compared with those of Caucasian origin. Thus, dietary manipulation has the potential to significantly affect health and disease-related outcomes in the different racial groups of New Zealand. However, major dietary changes within the population are difficult to implement. Functional foods offer the solution of modifying the nutritive properties of foods that people already consume. New Zealand's high incidence of diet-related diseases makes it an ideal testing ground for new developments in functional foods. The key to these developments is nutrigenomics, which offers approaches powerful enough to explore the complex interactions between nutrients and biological systems, allowing the rational design of functional foods. Copyright © 2005 by New Century Health Publishers, LLC.