Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the use of DNA testing for various purposes. They hear about it in regard to verifying paternity of a child, for example. It’s used in criminal forensics to provide evidence that a suspect is guilty of a crime. In medicine, DNA testing confirms whether patients have markers for serious diseases. Personalized DNA testing by a company like Pathway Genomics Corporation also can be performed for certain purposes and the customer can receive the results directly, instead of through a medical practitioner.
Genomic DNA is the complete sum of information about one subject’s genetic makeup. That subject can be a human, animal, insect, plant, microorganism or any other living creature. An individual customer of a genomics corporation does not receive the total information about every genetic component. Instead, the testing looks for specific details of interest.
Genetic Markers for Diet
An example of customized testing would involve learning about how to modify the diet for better weight loss results. The person could find out what genetic markers say about his or her ability to burn fat and carbohydrates. That could indicate how much saturated fat intake to reduce or how many carbohydrates should ideally be consumed each day.
The test can let people know whether a high-protein, low-carb diet is likely to be useful for them or not, or whether they’d be better served by a low-fat menu plan. Research has shown that people following a diet matching their genotype tend to lose about twice as much weight as those whose diet does not match genetic makeup.
Acting on the Information
The results must be acted upon or the testing is relatively pointless. An overweight person may find the DNA profile fascinating, but unless behavior is changed accordingly, nothing different will happen. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that even after paying for DNA testing and receiving helpful information, many people are still not motivated to do what needs to be done. It’s almost as though they hoped they would receive information that would let them do something easier to lose weight, but that’s not usually the case.