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Dieters May Get Help With New Gene Test: Report

March 4, 2010

A new genetic test revealed on Wednesday may help people who struggle to lose weight lose it more effectively by pointing to diets proper to their genetic makeup.

Interleukin Genetics Inc conducted the study of 140 overweight or obese women and found that those on diets “appropriate” for their genetic makeup lost more weight than those on less appropriate diets. The findings were revealed at a recent 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.

The $149 test looks for mutations in three genes, known as FABP2, PPARG, and ADRB2. Interleukin says 39 percent of white Americans have the low-fat genotype, 45 percent have the low-carbohydrate genotype, and 16 percent have gene mutations that mean they need to watch both fat and carbohydrate intake.

Researchers chose four diets — the low-carb Atkins diet, the ultra low-fat Ornish diet, low-fat LEARN diet, and balanced Zone diet — and randomly assigned them to each of the 140 women.

Over the course of a year, researchers found that people, who had genetically appropriate diets, lost 5.3 percent of their body weight, as opposed to 2.3 percent of those who were on non-appropriate diets.

The company said the test looks for genes that affect metabolism.

“One of the gene variations affects absorption of fats from the intestine,” Ken Kornman, chief scientific officer at Interleukin, said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
People with that particular mutation absorb more fat from food and thus should avoid fatty foods if they want to effectively lose weight, he said.

Another variation affects the body”Ëœs production of insulin to metabolize sugar. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar and processed flour stimulate people with that particular gene type to store more energy as fat, he said.

“What we don’t know is if they are on the right diet for their genotype whether it affects satiety or feeling full,” said Kornman. He said the company planned broader studies to ask these questions.

Interleukin markets its test under the name Inherent Health. It also can test people to see if response to exercise is more effective than dieting alone.

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