## How AI is Transforming Dietary Advice: The Pros and Cons
When it comes to using artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT, people are increasingly turning to them for help with menu planning and meeting their dietary goals. However, the effectiveness of this technology in providing accurate dietary advice is still a topic of debate. In a recent consumer poll, it was found that a majority of consumers are interested in eating a healthier diet and buying food with low environmental impact. With the rising concerns about chronic diseases and greenhouse gas emissions linked to food, there is a need for transformative solutions.
### The Challenges for Individuals with Food Allergies
For the 19.9% of Europeans living with food allergies, every eating decision must align with protecting themselves from adverse reactions. This comes at a cost, as individuals with food allergies spend more on weekly food purchases and require additional time to research and plan their diet. Therefore, while AI can be beneficial for many households in achieving healthier diets, it can be life-threatening for those with allergies if errors occur. Nutrition experts play a crucial role in informing and guiding the development of these technological solutions.
### The Role of AI in Dietary Advice
Researchers in Canada have used natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to process text on food labels. This enables accurate categorization of food products based on specific nutritional criteria. Commercial offerings like Food Maestro and Spoon Guru have already utilized AI systems co-developed with registered nutritionists to enhance food search and find features in online grocery shopping platforms. AI chatbots, such as Chat GPT, utilize generative AI to provide tailored menu plans, recipe ideas, and shopping lists.
### Mixed Results in Early Expert Reviews
Early reviews of Chat GPT’s ability to provide dietary advice have produced mixed results. In one study, the chatbot generated an unsafe dietary plan for individuals with allergies, including almond milk in a nut-free plan. Other errors included mistakes in food quantities, energy values, and repetitive menu plans. Concerns have also been raised about patient privacy, security, and the lack of accountability for harmful advice. Dietitians testing Chat GPT found errors in defining ideal diets for conditions like type 2 diabetes and haemodialysis.
### Ethical Implications and the Potential of AI
Despite the caution required, AI has the potential to provide personalized nutrition advice aligned with published dietary guidelines. Chat GPT often includes fruits and vegetables in every meal and incorporates advisory statements. While the ethical implications, safety, and quality of AI technology need further understanding, it can be a useful tool for dietitians, nutritionists, and researchers. It can save time, develop innovative approaches, and increase the accessibility of research. However, safety, nutrition experts, and scientifically robust information should be prioritized in the development and implementation of AI technologies for dietary advice.
AI technology like Chat GPT has the potential to revolutionize dietary advice and increase access to personalized recommendations. However, safety and accuracy should be prioritized, especially for individuals with food allergies. Nutrition experts, traceable sources of information, and quality assurance processes need to be central to the development and implementation of AI technologies in providing dietary advice. The accurate, safe, and transparent communication of dietary advice is crucial for the well-being of individuals and the overall impact on society.