23andMe, following a banner Christmas season for sales of its personal DNA-testing kits, has just announced a large-scale study intended to uncover the genetic reasons why diet and exercise have different effects on different people.
“We’d like to better understand the genetic, demographic, psychosocial and behavioral characteristics that predict weight loss success overall, and on different lifestyle interventions,” said Liana Del Gobbo, 23andMe’s lead scientist on the study. “This will help us begin to pave the way toward more personalized lifestyle recommendations.”
Participants in the study — recruited from existing customers who have already agreed to be research subjects — will be randomly assigned to one of three regimes: One group will shun carbohydrates, one will eat more fiber but avoid animal fat, and one will eat as usual but add exercise, according to the MIT Technology Review.
“They’ll report back to the company about how often they have ‘cravings,’ whether they’re stressed, and if they succeed in following the diets,” according to the Technology Review. “The company thinks that people, on average, will have roughly the same results on all the plans. What it may be able to figure out, though, is whether there are genetic or personal reasons why some individuals will end up losing 40 pounds, and others gaining 10, no matter which advice they follow.”
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