HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Can a Gene Test Predict which Diet will Optimize Weight Loss?

A small study suggets that a new genetic test by Interleukin Genetics Inc. may help dieters pick the best diet: a low-fat diet, one that cuts carbohydrates or a more balanced approach. Reuters reports that

[t]he small study of about 140 overweight or obese women showed that those on diets "appropriate" for their genetic makeup lost more weight than those on less appropriate diets, researchers told an American Heart Association meeting. 'The potential of using genetic information to achieve this magnitude of weight loss without pharmaceutical intervention would be important in helping to solve the pervasive problem of excessive weight in our society,' Christopher Gardner at Stanford University in California, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

Massachusetts-based Interleukin's test looks for mutations in three genes, known as FABP2, PPARG and ADRB2. The company says that 39 percent of white Americans have the low-fat genotype, 45 percent have the type that responds best to a diet low in processed carbohydrates and 16 percent have the gene mutation that helps them lose weight best on a balanced diet.

'Individuals on genotype-appropriate diets lost 5.3 percent of body weight compared to individuals on diets not matched to their genotype, who experienced only 2.3 percent weight loss,' the researchers wrote in a presentation prepared ahead of the conference. 'The weight loss differences were even stronger when considering the individuals who were trying to follow the lowest carbohydrate (Atkins) and the lowest fat (Ornish) diets: 6.8 percent weight loss for those whose genotype matched the diet they were following versus 1.4 percent for those not matched to their genotype.'

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