Can Your Genes Tell You How to Lose Weight?

“Yes,” is the answer we get from a recent article by reporter Ron Winslow in the Wall Street Journal. Some lose weight easier and faster by following a low-fat diet, while others do so with a low-carbohydrate regime, and Winslow reports that a recent Stanford University study concluded “that a genetic test can help people choose which one works best for them.”

Still, Winslow makes sure to qualify his reporting, pointing out for example that “[t]he study . . . has just been submitted to a medical journal and thus hasn’t yet cleared rigorous peer review that precedes publication.” And it’s good that he does so, since today Line Ziegler Laursen of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten takes up the same subject.

Her headline does read “DNA decides whether diet-cures work,” yet she also goes on to discuss how Danish researchers have investigated the same question and remain a bit more skeptical. Arne Astrup, known as “one of Denmark’s slimming-experts,” is quoted here that, although results of the Danish research do come out along the same lines, the statistical relation they discovered “is relatively weak, and therefore it is unreliable for researchers to guarantee patients a large weight-loss if they know their DNA.” Rather, the Danish scientists are of the opinion that successful weight-loss is still a matter of at least three or four different factors, not just the patient’s DNA. They have put in a request to Stanford to review the data from the tests conducted there, in order to look into the question further.

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