evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

Linear Programming in Nutrition: easy! Yes, but…only if somebody would have told me how to do it.

In Under-nutrition on May 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

This week I am working again for Valid International creating new formulations for feeding programmes in emergency settings. The software to create the theoretical formulation is a simple MS Excel sheet, using the add-in Solver. However the technique is based on linear programming : something very mysterious until few years ago for me, now much more accessible. Basically it is a mathematical approach to solve multi-factorial equations – scary isn’t it?

However, the potential use of Linear Programming (also) in nutrition is huge! You can design and assess diets and formulate new foods. Not only. As an example see this economic assessment of food prices using Linear Programming (Briend et al.). Or for the ones interested in therapeutic feeding, do not miss this paper.

For some simple theory  have a look at this UN document about  Linear Programming in nutrition, prepared by Andre’ Briend: very well done. If you are specifically interested on ready-to-use therapeutic food, see this recent paper. If you are looking for a simple software, try Nutrisurvey (the picture is from this software): a marvel work by Juergen Erhardt.

Question: are you a nutritionist or a food technologist? Did you receive a training in this amazing tool during your education? If not, why is it so? Do you think there is market out there for this?

My opinion – I had to learn myself… Interesting, but time demanding. As a nutritionist, or food technologist, my point is that this tool should be a compulsory part of our formal education (MSc, bachelor, etc.), just as much we learn about food and nutrient composition.

What is your point about it?

 

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Find more information about LP also here.

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