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DNA Testing and Food

Often we hear people blame their obesity on their genes, but can DNA testing help people understand what foods they need in their diets?

DNA Testing and Diets

Some people will do almost anything to be thin, especially with the latest debates over the so-called ‘size zero’ models on one hand and growing obesity on the other. This being the case, is it just social pressures and psychological weaknesses that make us thin or fat, or can we blame our genes? DNA testing can certainly reveal a gene that's responsible for obesity with the right environmental triggers. In fact, DNA testing can also reveal what diseases we are genetically vulnerable to.

Controversy Over Diet-related Genetics

nternet based DNA testing services which offer personalised diets to suit a person’s genetic make-up have been causing some controversy. DNA testing has plenty of genuine and valuable uses such as establishing paternity or tracing ancestral heritage, and in science and medicine DNA testing can be crucial in detecting genetic diseases, but the idea that a diet based on our DNA can be effective is so far unproven.

DNA Testing Kits

‘Nutrigenomic diets’ have been marketed as eating plans that are suited specifically to one person’s genes, but some believe this type of DNA testing kit to be misleading. DNA testing kits can be sold at a cost of up to £1,000 via the internet, with a promise to advise on which foods to avoid in reducing the risk of certain diseases. Although research has suggested links between genetics and vulnerability to disorders worsened by certain diets, no research has yet proven that suggests food can protect you from a disease which your genes make you vulnerable to.

Regulated DNA Testing

Ongoing investigations and testing will hopefully discover if diets based on DNA testing can be effective. The Centre of Genomics in Society at the University of Exeter is looking at the potential need for regulation of the marketing of ‘nutrigenomic’ DNA testing for diets.

DNA Testing – Wild Claims

There are also concerns in the USA, where DNA testing is offered with even more wild and fantastic claims, such as making your children more intelligent by adopting a nutrigenomic diet. Other claimed benefits include weight loss, toning up and living longer based on an analysis on DNA samples from DNA testing.

The marketing of DNA tests and DNA testing as a cure for almost everything from intellect to disease control is potentially exploitative and there is a lot of research needed before any such claims can be proven.

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