Assessing the impact of a personalised application-based nutrition intervention on carbohydrate intake in rural Benin

Lena Behrendt, Silvia Kolossa, Maria Vrachioli, Getachew Abate Kassa, Habtamu Ayenew, Kurt Gedrich, Geraud Fabrice Crinot, Paul Houssou, Johannes Sauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study aims to assess the effect of a personalised nutrition intervention on nutrient intake in rural Benin as a tool to tackle the double burden of malnutrition. The personalised recommender system uses information from the eating behaviour of all household members combined to provide tailored advice on adjusting the consumption of up to three food items to tackle malnutrition and obesity in the household. Many developing countries nowadays experience the double burden of malnutrition, the coexistence of undernutrition alongside overweight and obesity, as well as other related non-communicable diseases. Personalised nutrition was very effective in European studies in improving nutrition and tackling obesity, which is why this study aims to translate personalised nutrition to a developing country context. Results: A study was conducted in rural areas of Benin where 720 households were randomly selected. Due to high attrition, we used propensity score matching and looked into average treatment effects. We found that the recommendation to eat less carbohydrates resulted in a reduction in carbohydrate consumption with a significant effect for both the average treatment effect (ATE) of the whole population as well as the average treatment effect of the treated (ATET). We found that households that received the treatment to consume less food items with a high carbohydrate intake have followed this advice and have consumed on average lower levels of carbohydrates than their control counterparts. Conclusions: Rising obesity is a worldwide problem that poses a severe challenge for policymakers. Especially in developing countries the change from too little, to too much is seamless. For the increasing obese population, the recommender system could be a useful tool. The idea of personalised nutrition has the potential to be one of the necessary steps in the ongoing battle against obesity and unhealthy diets. The personalised application-based recommender system used in this study has the ability to be a strong and effective tool for policymakers in the ongoing battle of food security vs. obesity in Benin and other countries. We propose that future research focuses more on personalised nutrition in the context of a developing country.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalAgriculture and Food Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Africa
  • Benin
  • Carbohydrates
  • Double burden
  • Intervention study
  • Nutrition security
  • Personalised nutrition


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