Genetic testing for optimizing weight loss strategies?
March 14, 2010 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with companies that offer genetic testing targeted towards specific goals (ie - weightloss)?

We came across a company that claims to offer a test specifically geared towards figuring out what sort of diet would have the best effect with your particular genetic makeup.

This smells like snake oil to me, but my fiancee wants to get this testing for both of us. They have a report that claims to lay out the science behind their tests, but I'm woefully unqualified to judge the validity of that. From some cursory searches, I can't seem to find much of anyone weighing in on this company and their tests as either legit or not. I realize that this sort of testing is not really necessary, but if the studies they're claiming are accurate, it does seem like it could help.

Does anybody have any experience with this company or their test, or know how valid/legitimate they are?
posted by DoomGerbil to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Inherent Health is run by Interleukin Genetics (see the copyright at the bottom of their website). It seems they did a study with Stanford, and presented their findings to the American Heart Association.
- Applied Clinical Trials website
- Reuters
- Forbes
posted by Houstonian at 12:20 PM on March 14, 2010

150 person study, with 5-7% weightloss

color me skeptical

lets see a 2 year followup study on these people like we have for other dieting studies
posted by so_ at 3:13 PM on March 14, 2010

My mother did a similar thing - her blood was tested, then she was presented with a complete list of what foods to eat/avoid, and exactly how much of each particular food she was allowed.

Weighing every single thing to the gram got very old very fast, so she gave up the diet with a week or so. The test had cost her AU$1000. (And she was the third person I knew who paid for the test and then realised the diet was ridiculously limited and labour intensive. Lucrative, eh?)

Your test is significantly cheaper, but cynical-old-me thinks it's kinda the same. Charge a fee upfront, deliver 'results' and 'recommendations', then laugh all the way to the bank.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:19 PM on March 14, 2010

I study genomics, but am not an expert on metabolism. That said, this also sounds a little bit dodgy to me. Here's why:

1) Although there's lots of research being done on the genetic basis of obesity, there's still a long way to go before we really understand the genotype/phenotype relationship.

2) I agree that I'd want to see more evidence than their limited trial reports.

3) Most importantly, if your parents are willing to weigh out their portions, obsessively track their food intake and calorie expenditure, and exercise regularly (as this plan seems to demand), then it should be pretty easy to lose weight even without a specially tailored diet.

If your weight is stable, then you need to exercise more and ingest fewer calories. Yes, there are metabolic subtleties involved, but measuring calories in vs out is still a pretty darn good approximation that has helped millions of people lose weight and get healthier. Even better, it's essentially free.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:17 PM on March 14, 2010

I'm just here to agree with what chrisamiller said. I am a biomedical researcher, though also not an expert in metabolism. We just aren't at this point with understanding weight loss/obesity yet not to mention just fundamental ways in which our cells behave. I really can't envision how the results of a genetic screen like this would translate into results for you. I think the results of the genetic screen would more just be results of a genetic screen. Okay, you have the information, but science doesn't know what to do with it just yet.

Spend the money on a personal trainer and a consult with a nutritionist instead.
posted by sickinthehead at 5:21 PM on March 14, 2010

I was just reading this article as well:

"One study found that at 12 months, individuals exercising more than 200 minutes per week lost 7.8 kg more (P<>
Over 12 months w/200 minutes per week of exercise is 7.8kg = 17 pounds is 5% or more weigh loss right up to 340 pound people.

And seeing as how complicated this whole business is, reporting problems, adherence to the diet, how much exercise they did, exactly how many calories did they eat regardless of which "diet" they were on, etc.
posted by so_ at 8:07 PM on March 14, 2010

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