Posted - April 30, 2010

What do genes have to do with Weight loss?

A new company suggests that knowing more about your DNA may be the key to achieving weight loss success. But is this latest weight loss product worth the money?

Inherent Health, a division of Interleukin Genetics Inc., offers consumers a testing kit to collect their own DNA sample and have the results analyzed by a lab. For $149, the lab will look for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in four genes and create a weight management profile based on the findings. The idea is that your profile will tell you if you’re more likely to lose weight on a low-fat, low-carb, or well-balanced diet. But does it work?

Standford researchers looked at 140 overweight or obese women who were given diet recommendations based on their genetic profile. They found that women who followed their recommended diet lost 5.3% of their body weight, compared to a 2.3% loss in women who were not compliant.

However, some experts point out that these SNPs existed long before there was an obesity epidemic, suggesting that genetic tendencies may actually play a very small role in whether or not someone becomes overweight or obese. Critics of genetic testing kits say that other factors, including environment and lifestyle, have a larger impact on body weight and that the most significant cause of the obesity epidemic is decreased physical activity and an increase in the availability of unhealthy foods.

Genetic testing may tell you a little more about your body’s natural tendencies, but a DNA profile alone won’t help you make healthier choices. Losing weight will always require a change in eating and fitness habits.