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Eat Healthier And Regain Control Of Your Body Weight – Exclusive Interview With Gianluca Tognon

Gianluca Tognon is an associate professor in public health at the University of Skövde (Sweden) and the founder of the consulting company “The Food Scientist.” He is an expert in public health, nutrition, and food science. As a trained biologist with a Ph.D. in nutrition, Gianluca spent more than 15 years researching public health and nutritional epidemiology to understand the problems connected to unhealthy diets. He has also worked with the Choices Programme, which has set criteria for reformulating food products to better impact consumers’ health. He is now primarily focused on helping companies in the food and health industry improve their products, brand, and presence. Gianluca has consulted private companies, schools, organizations, and hundreds of private individuals who needed help with diet and health. He has presented at several conferences and events in Europe and the USA. More information about Gianluca is available on his website: gianlucatognon.com.

A guy standing near the kitchen sink with fruits and vegetables on his front.
Photo credit: Cornelia Schmidt

Gianluca Tognon, Associate professor in public health and founder of "The Food Scientist"


Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.


I was born and raised in a small village in the north of Italy. Definitely not one of those fancy places that you see on Instagram, but rather a place in the south of Milan, surrounded by corn and soy fields! I’ve always been passionate about science, and I remember that as a child, I was always curious to discover something new about the world surrounding me. It’s no surprise that I chose to pursue a career in science. Honestly, I would have loved to study astronomy, and actually, I’m still an eager consumer of blogs and videos about space exploration, not to mention an admirer of Elon Musk. However, I felt I wasn’t really gifted at math and physics, and therefore I chose my passion number two: biology.


As a biologist, I worked first in the lab, and then I developed an interest in nutrition which brought me first to move to beautiful Florence in 2005 and then to Sweden in 2010, where I worked as a researcher in nutritional epidemiology. Recently I even obtained Swedish citizenship. It’s been an incredible journey, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with scientists from all over the EU. I even got an invitation to speak at Harvard about my research a few years ago.


However, I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurship, and that is why I have also founded a company to work as a consultant in the food, health, and nutrition industries.


As for my interests, I love traveling (I can’t wait to go to Japan in December!), cycling, cooking, and… well, cats!


What is your business name, and how do you help your clients?

My company is called “The Food Scientist,” and I help private clients who need guidance to eat healthier and regain control of their body weight. I also work with cooking classes and team-building activities with cooking because I believe that a healthy lifestyle is a goal that cannot be reached by eating canned foods and pre-cooked meals. I often work with men and women of different ages and backgrounds who have one thing in common: they have been struggling with their weight for their entire life. My work is to teach them how to stop relying on popular diets and learn how to gain better control of their body weight. I also work with non-professional athletes, a group of people who tend to excessively rely on very high-protein diets not always aware of the potential health risks.


What kind of audience do you target your business towards?

Recently my company has co-founded two startup companies: food4future in Sweden (which is working on establishing a new line of functional food products) and MurgeEat in the UK, a new smartphone application for the restaurant industry. Therefore, I started to extend my audience and network to entrepreneurs who want to disrupt the health and food industry, where there is a huge need for innovation.


On the other hand, I’ve never stopped teaching and doing research, and I’m currently employed part-time at the university of Skövde (Sweden). I’m currently writing a research project on diet, BMI, and depression. I’m also involved in the establishment of a new research consortium that will investigate several research questions connected to COVID-19.


I’m also planning to apply to the scientific committee of the “Choices International Program,” a foundation that has developed a nutrient profiling system to guide food and health policies in different countries in Asia and Africa.


What are your current goals for your business? What would you like to achieve for yourself and your business in the future?

My immediate challenge is to work hard to grow the two startups my company co-founded. Food4future recently launched its first functional food, a high-protein and high-fiber bread that we called “Piada” which has had incredible success from the very beginning. On the other hand, with MurgeEat, we plan to apply to the European Union, hoping to be awarded the innovation fund.


I am also working so that my work as entrepreneur will be more interconnected with my research activities. That is why my company will soon develop a new smartphone application that I plan to use in the research studies I mentioned before.


Since I also have invested a lot in online communication over the years and reached thousands of people through my website and social media, I’d like to continue this work too. My dream is to start a new Youtube channel and be more active on Linkedin and Instagram.


Who inspires you to be the best that you can be?

I try to learn from everyone since I believe we all have something to teach, even if they are not always aware of that. And then it’s just that I love what I do, and I am surrounded by a lot of motivated people who push me to always walk outside of my comfort zone.


What is your work inspired by?

I listen to what people say, no matter if it's clients, family, friends, or someone I met for the first time. I think we have lost the ability to listen to other people, and we are too concentrated on ourselves. Instead, when you start listening to other people, you get a lot of new ideas and inspiration. And besides, you might even discover that some of your friends need help or a person to talk to.


Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.

I would say it’s the fact that I managed to have an academic career while at the same time serving hundreds of clients and contributing to the founding of three companies.


If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?

In the diet and health industry, there are a lot of actors (companies, gurus, you name it) that give the same unsubstantiated advice to everyone, asking them without any scruples about the possible consequences. I’m thinking about the many popular diets that, in most cases, are only copycats of the low-carb diet that Dr. Atkins proposed in the ‘60s but presented with a new angle (the paleo diet, the blood type diet, etc.). These diets have only contributed to generating a lot of frustrations among the people who have tried them. I also hope there will be more regulations regarding dietary supplements, which are not regulated as pharmaceuticals, despite having potential side effects and no proven positive effects.


Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.


A few years ago, I was working mostly as a researcher and only occasionally as a self-employed nutritionist. At some point, I had burnout. I realized that the main cause of that was a job that wasn’t giving me any satisfaction at all, and it had evolved into a constant source of disappointment and frustration. One day I finally resigned. After that, I applied for several positions, and finally, I got a good job at a large multinational company in Lausanne. The salary was super good, Switzerland is undeniably beautiful (and I love the Alps), and the job was perfect for me. But accepting a corporate job would have forced me to stop all my side activities like blogging and working with clients. And that is when I realized that I didn’t want to be a corporate guy, so I decided to go back to academia. This time I chose a part-time and have more time to dedicate to my clients. Since then, this solution has worked incredibly well for me, and now I’m working on a research project where I will use a new coaching app that my company will develop.

A man talking with a lady in the office.
Photo credit: Cornelia Schmidt

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