Wellness

A Big Step for DNA Tests

Could science be the key to better managing personal health?

The Lempert Report

DNA tests have been around for a while—well over 10 years—and have been promising the keys to better heart health, diabetes and personalized nutrition. And while companies like 23andMe are offering these tests to millions of people, we really haven’t seen the changes to lifestyle as we have hoped. But that may be about to change.

Jenny Craig’s new advertising campaign promotes a DNA Decoder Plan that directs users toward the best food choices based on their genetic makeup. 

And it may be this combination of mass marketing and weight loss that finally pushes us to pay attention and change what we eat.

All dieters have to do is swab their cheeks and send off the kit for analysis, and Jenny Craig create a personalized meal and exercise plan.  

Monty Sharma, CEO of Jenny Craig, said in a recent survey that nearly half of the weight-loss consumers they polled want to utilize their DNA to create a customized weight-loss plan. Looking for that “magic bullet” anyone?

In fact, in the ad campaign, real-people endorsers refer to the Jenny Craig microwave-and-munch prepared food plan as the "easy button" for weight loss.

Our friend Marion Nestle, who writes the popular Food Politics blog and is the Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, brings a calm and more realistic view.

"I don’t know of any better way to lose weight than to eat less and move more," she said. "How much less? Check a scale every day. If weight isn’t budging, eat even less. This may go more quickly if you replace junk foods with plant foods.

"Beyond that, I cannot imagine that DNA testing will make this any easier unless paying a lot of money acts as an incentive. If having someone interpret your DNA to suggest what you should most cut down on—and you can afford it—go for it. But really, what matters to body weight is calorie balance and consuming fewer calories than you need—from any source—ought to work just fine."

Trending

More from our partners