Most of us know someone who doesn’t seem to gain weight, no matter what they eat. And as we glare at them in envy, they just blame it on their “skinny genes.” Well, according to two different diet plans, genes do play a role in weight. They suggest that you need to know what lies in your genes in order to get the most out of your diet and exercise.
Interleukin Genetics, a Massachusetts-based company, analyzes five genetic variations on four genes that company officials say have the steepest piles of evidence. Two of the variations relate to the body’s use of fat during exercise. The others help determine your predisposition for diabetes and weight gain, and how your body absorbs fatty acids from food.
Interleukin bases its test on research it did with a Stanford University. In the study, they found that DNA-matched dieters lost twice as much as those on a standard regimen.
All you have to do is swab your cheek with a brush-like device that the company sends to you for $169. Then, you mail it to their lab and expect your results to arrive in two weeks with recommendations for diet (low-carb, low-fat or balanced) and the exercise you need to mobilize fat stores.
Another diet plan based on DNA is Newtopia, a Canadian firm that recently launched in the United States. With this plan, you get an initial workup with a participating physician that includes a psychological and behavioral survey, and a genetic test for $399. Your results, a diet plan and a month’s supply of vitamin supplements come a few weeks later, augmented by six online “coaching sessions.”
Newtopia tests three genes. One assesses obesity risk, diabetes proclivity and fat absorption. Another tests how quickly your stomach lets your brain know it’s full and the last tests the dopamine activity in the brain, to gauge whether you’re among the easily satisfied or inclined to addiction and compulsivity. Along with your diet recommendation, the plan also suggests behavioral changes. For example, addictive types should avoid “trigger” foods.
Both diets are based on a new field of studies called nutrigenomics, which looks at how food interacts with genes. Studies are still being done to find out to what extent genes contribute to weight and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, among others.
It might still be too early to tell how effective DNA-based diet plans are, but, as more research comes out, we might find that some people really do have “skinny genes.”
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