An increasing number of consumers regard dietary recommendations based on genetics as being more credible than general dietary advice, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. Ninety-three percent of participants who received dietary recommendations based on their DNA agreed that the information would be useful when considering their diet with 95% wanting to know more about their test results and genetic recommendations.
In comparison, only 78% of participants who received general dietary advice regarded the information as useful and credible with only 76% wanting to learn more about the dietary recommendations.
“Recent advancements in Human Genomic research have enabled consumers to easily gain access to information about their unique genetic make-up and understand how their DNA impacts anything from weight loss to susceptibility for developing certain diseases. With direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genetic tests becoming more and more available, we have seen a substantial increase in demand from both a global and South African perspective,” says Dr Daniel Meyersfeld, CEO and founder of DNAlysis Biotechnology, a local molecular technology firm.
Increased demand for genetic testing
According to Meyersfeld, the field of DTC nutrigenomic testing emerged globally in the early 2000s and was initially met with much scepticism. “Since then, a plethora of research emerged in the field and we have seen a definite increase in demand and interest from both consumers and healthcare professionals. As more research is conducted, we believe that genetics will ultimately become an integral part of healthcare.”
Locally, the field of genomics has sparked increasing interest amongst healthcare professionals from dieticians, nutritionists and homeopaths to sport-science professionals, general practitioners and medical specialists.
“We launched South Africa’s first DNA Diet test in 2010, and placed a large focus on providing medical professionals with relevant training in the field of nutrigenomics. Today, South Africa has what is probably one of the largest networks of healthcare practitioners in the world that are qualified to interpret DNA tests and provide suitable diet, exercise and healthcare regimes to clients,” says Meyersfeld.
Personalised dietary advice
DTC genetic tests that offer personalised dietary advice, such as DNA Diet, provide consumers with knowledge of their unique genetic variations, enabling them to better determine their individual responsiveness to diet, exercise and other factors. The result is a personalised programme that achieves weight-loss goals more effectively and sustainably.
“Genetic factors play a significant role in the regulation of energy expenditure, appetite, cholesterol metabolism, fat burning and thermogenesis, explaining why one weight-loss solution will never work equally well for everyone. However, resulting recommendations should be approached holistically and optimum results will be achieved when paired with the guidance of a dietician and other healthcare professionals. The combination results in a holistic plan which adjusts the individual’s diet, exercise and other key lifestyle factors while taking genes, body, history and lifestyle into account.
“There is still much to be discovered in the field of genomics, but each new study is a quantum leap forward and, as greater momentum is achieved, genomic research will continue to become more mainstream,” Meyersfeld concludes.
For more information on DNAlysis Biotechnology and its various products, including DNA Diet and DNA Health, visit www.dnadiet.co.za or call 011 268 0268.
- (Health24, August 2012)
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