The Forbes 30 under 30 nominees set to shake up nutrition in 2021
Cellular agriculture, reformulation, digital platforms and transparency are all key pillars
04 Dec 2020 --- Nutritional players have a prominent place in Forbes’ list of 600 entrepreneurs, scientists, activists and entertainers under the age of 30 making changes in the world. NutritionInsight speaks with some of the people behind 2021’s highlights, which include lab-grown breast milk, nutrition label investigations and an “anti-diet” app.
Cultured human mammary cells
Appearing on Forbes’ “Social Impact” list, Michelle Egger is the co-founder of Biomilq, which cultures human mammary cells to create breast milk. In June, the company received US$3.5 million in funding.
However, regulatory challenges continue to be the company’s biggest obstacle. “We are bringing a new technology, product and use case to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) applied to the most precious beings on the planet – infants,” Egger underscores.
“Rightly so, regulatory expectations are high and will take a while for any company in this space to navigate.”
Looking ahead to the next six months, Egger’s emphasis will be on growing the Biomilq team. Meanwhile, she holds the hope that parents will no longer be guilted and judged for the choices they make in feeding their children.
“There will be enough quality and affordable options that families feel supported, whether they exclusively breastfeed or not. We don’t have to continue to add more cognitive load to already overstretched mothers in this world,” Egger stresses.
Optimizing food label design
One of the highlights among the nominees in the “Health” category is Aviva Musicus, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
She specializes in the link between food-related policy and human health and behavior. She is also an expert in food label design and helped inform a local law regarding sodium labeling.
In 2021, Musicus will continue her work examining the behavioral effects of sodium and added sugar warning labels on packaged and restaurant foods.
She will also work on other modifications to food packages and restaurant menus that could educate consumers and encourage companies to reformulate their products to make them healthier.
Additionally, Musicus has started to use cost-effectiveness analysis methods to understand the financial implications of the nutrition policies she investigates, which is especially helpful for lawmakers.
Another new facet of her work is the incorporation of environmental sustainability, examining dietary solutions that can improve both human and planetary health.
Musicus’ hope for the next decade is that the US implements mandatory warning labels on packaged foods and drinks that are high in added sugars, as is standard in many other countries.
“This could substantially improve population health, especially if combined with other policies, such as taxes on sugary drinks and restrictions on child-directed junk food marketing.”
US$4.2 million for nutrition coaching
Emily Hochman’s successes with her company, Wellory, have earned her a place on the “Consumer Technology” list. The company offers one-to-one personalized nutrition coaching via an “anti-diet” app.
Wellory focuses on making micro-adjustments that lead to macro-behavior change. The app’s relationship-driven, meal-by-meal approach is paired with photo-sharing.
This helps coaches identify opportunities to make nutrition recommendations while helping clients stay accountable to their new habits and track progress over time.
“It’s important that we address nutrition education in our country head-on. We must prioritize teaching consumers how to make better nutrition choices so we can stave off increasing obesity rates, chronic illness and decreasing life expectancy,” says Hochman.
Wellory has just landed US$4.2 million in funding, which will go toward the development of Wellory’s technology, marketing efforts and team growth. The funding was led by Story Ventures, with participation from executives from Google, Amazon, Glossier, among others.
“What we saw in Wellory was a way to put a human coach at the center of understanding this health data. With nutrition as the wedge, Wellory has built a trusted relationship with people who affirmatively want to better understand and improve their well-being,” says Jake Yormak, Managing Partner of Story Ventures.
Better choices for the body, mind and society
Helen Guo and Dylan Kaplan, founders of Schoolyard Snacks, also earned a place on the nomination list. The company creates low-carb, low-sugar cereals and cheese puffs. Each bag of cereal only contains 1 g of total carbohydrates as the company replaces sugar and flour with lactose-free protein and monk fruit.
Meanwhile, Vittoria Bergeron and Alyssa Musket are the co-founders of Sesh, which is a mental health app providing group support for a host of needs, including body image issues. Members can pay US$60 a month to access unlimited group support sessions.
Finalla, Sana Javeri Kadri is the founder of Diaspora Co. The company works directly with small family farms across India to ethically source spices like turmeric.
Kadri emphasizes the importance of transparency, which has been crowned as Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend of 2021 in nutritional F&B development.
“We put money, equity and power into the hands of Indian farmers to disrupt and decolonize an outdated commodity spice trading system,” states the company.
By Katherine Durrell
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