American Nutrition Association: The Science and Practice of Personalized Nutrition

The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) sets the global standard for education, training, and clinical practice in Functional Medicine, promoting a systems-oriented, patient-focused clinical model designed to reverse the growing chronic disease epidemic. The Functional Medicine methodology helps clinicians develop nutritional, environmental, social, and lifestyle strategies for patients. The resulting individualized therapeutic approaches address the underlying root causes of disease and foster optimal wellness. In the effort to advance Functional Medicine worldwide, IFM highlights the efforts of other leading institutions that share common goals. The recently formed American Nutrition Association is one such leading institution.

ANA: A Collective

The American Nutrition Association (ANA) is a non-profit organization that has a vision of “healthy people, powered by nutrition,”1 and according to the CEO, Michael Stroka, JD, MBA, MS, the ANA is committed to the science and practice of personalized nutrition.2

In late 2019, the leaders of five different nutrition-related organizations united as the ANA in order to “unleash nutrition’s potential to reverse the chronic disease and obesity crisis.”1 The five constituent organizations include the following:

  • American College of Nutrition (ACN): Founded in 1959, this organization combines the studies of nutrition and medical science for the advancement of health and wellness1
  • Nutrition for Optimal Health Association: Established in 1972, this organization provides a direct public source for nutrition information that is based on the latest research1
  • Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS): Established in 1993, this organization “administers the advanced certification for personalized nutrition practitioners, Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)”1
  • Center for Nutrition Advocacy (CNA): This advocacy organization was launched 2013 to advance political policies regarding practice and insurance reimbursement rights for nutrition practitioners1
  • Accreditation Council for Nutrition Professional Education (ACNPE): Founded in 2015, this non-profit organization accredits master’s degree clinical programs in nutrition1

As a collective, the ANA offers education in “science-based personalized nutrition” to health professionals and the public through their conference, journal (peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Nutrition), webinars, and educational trainings, certification for personalized nutrition in practice, advocacy for health professionals practicing nutrition within their training and scope, and connection to a community of people passionate about personalized nutrition.1

ANA: Personalized Nutrition

Personalized nutrition is based on the concept that one size does not fit all and has been described under similar terms such as “precision nutrition” and “nutritional genomics” that may be used with overlapping meanings.3 For the practice of personalized nutrition to reach its full potential to improve health and address the chronic disease crisis, the ANA recognized a need for a consensus definition of personalized nutrition and a clearer delineation of its field of application.3 The ANA has proposed the following definition:

Personalized nutrition is a field that leverages human individuality to drive nutrition strategies that prevent, manage, and treat disease and optimize health.3

In addition to the definition, the ANA has proposed the following three areas of application for the field of personalized nutrition (PN):3

  • PN science and data
  • PN professional education and training
  • PN guidance and therapeutics

Implementing individualized therapeutic strategies, including nutrition, and addressing underlying issues to optimize each patient’s health and wellness are integral components of the Functional Medicine model. With their mission to “champion the science and practice of personalized nutrition”1 in order to improve health and address the underlying causes of chronic disease, the ANA is well in line with the Functional Medicine approach. IFM continues to support personalized nutrition in clinical practice through focused tools and insights and new educational opportunities.

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Learn More About the American Nutrition Association


  1. The story of the American Nutrition Association. American Nutrition Association. Accessed February 11, 2020.
  2. Polito R. New American Nutrition Association intends to make nutrition central to healthcare. New Hope Network. Published December 11, 2019. Accessed February 11, 2020.
  3. Bush CL, Blumberg JB, El-Sohemy A, et al. Toward the definition of personalized nutrition: a proposal by the American Nutrition Association. J Am Coll Nutr. 2020;39(1):5-15. doi:10.1080/07315724.2019.1685332.

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