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Development of nutrition and dietary supplements for specific target groups: the case of patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Why this project?

The aim of the ICON project TargetDigest is to gain insight into the possibility of using population-specific, adapted in vitro models to simulate gastrointestinal conditions and thus enable the development of food and nutritional supplements for specific target populations. This project focuses on adapted nutritional supplements and bread formulations for patients who underwent bariatric surgery. The generic thinking and methodologies addressed in TargetDigest can, if successful, be used for other target populations with different gastrointestinal physiologies/functions, thus driving the process of product/supplement development.

Methodology and expected results

The ICON project TargetDigest investigates the possibility of using in vitro digestion models to develop nutritional supplements and products (including bread) for a very specific target group: patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

This project will serve as a proof-of-concept for the following approach:

  • in vivo measurements of specific physiology in the target population
  • translation into in vitro models enabling rational design of dietary supplements and nutritional products (i.e. bread)
  • in vitro evaluation of factors determining dietary (supplement) design:
    • regarding the optimisation of food supplements and bread products for the intended target group, different forms (tablet, powder, etc.), compositions (supplements), old grain varieties (bread), milling techniques (bread), and preparation processes (bread) are studied
  • in vivo validation of acquired insights

If this methodology is successful for this target group, it promises a faster and more targeted design of nutrition (supplements) in the future. This methodology facilitates a more efficient, less expensive, and minimally invasive way to meet the nutritional needs of a specific target group.

Target group

Results from the basic strategic research component may be relevant to subsequent actors:

  1. Food producing/processing companies with an interest in the intended target population (including bakery sector)
  2. Manufacturers of nutritional supplements for the target population
  3. Companies interested in in vitro digestion models (for intended target population)

Project partners

  • Van Eeckhout bakery (coordinator)
  • Metagenics Belgium
  • ProDigest
  • KU Leuven – Nutrition & Metabolism Associated Diseases (NMAD) research group led by Prof. Christophe Matthys
  • KU Leuven – Laboratory of Food Technology (LFT) led by Prof. Tara Grauwet
  • Flanders’ FOOD
Logo ProDigest
Flanders' FOOD logo
KU Leuven


Foto Trui Luyckx
Trui Luyckx
innovation manager
Ellen Fierens
research manager