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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How our genes affect our weight

By Ashley Kohl
Should you choose peanuts or whole grain pretzels if you are at a party and trying to manage your weight? The answer depends on your genes. To tell us more is registered dietician Nancy Dell.

Think of your genes like the instruction manual for your body. Some of us have genes that tell our body to absorb fat in excessive amounts and store it as body fat. Other people may have genes that say absorb carbohydrate and store it as fat. Just like some people can digest milk and some people can not. When you know which foods your genes say you should store as fat, you can better manage your weight.
According to research at Stanford University, you can lose 2 to 3 times more weight when you match your diet to your genes. Here is how we found this out. First the researchers at Stanford wanted to see which diet was the best. So they randomly assigned people to a low carb diet like Atkins or the Zone or a low fat diet like Ornish or the Learn Program. After 1 year, some people lost a lot of weight on each diet and some people lost a little weight on each diet. So the researchers concluded that all diets are equally effective or ineffective. BUT then the gene people came along and said, "can we look at the weight management genes of the people in your study?". When they did, they found that if you were lucky enough to be randomly assigned to the diet that matched your genes, you were the one who lost lots of weight in that group. If you were unlucky and got randomly assigned to the diet that did NOT match your genes, you did not lose much weight on the diet.
To test which genes you have we swab the inside of your cheek to collect some cells and send it off to the lab. You get your results in 7 to 10 days.
The test will give you suggestions for exercise and diet. Today we will mainly focus on the diet recommendations. Your genes will tell us whether you need to be a fat trimmer and watch fat or a carb reducer and limit carbs. But both plans do not severely limit your fats or carbs. So they are more easy to follow long term. The dietitian will look at your gene results and your usual food intake and marry the two so the plan fits you.

The test is performed at a state-of-the-art CLIA certified lab but insurance does not cover the cost of the test. The cost is $169.00 + $10.56 tax. This is reasonable compared to weight management plans with pre-packaged meals or weeks of group meetings. Most insurances do cover the nutrition counseling that is needed to design the eating plan based on your usual diet and the test results.

Your genes do not change so this is a one time investment and you know what works for you instead of trying the latest diet on the book shelves just to find it doesn't fit you.  




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