DNA Diet, bad news 4 years on

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Posted 03 February 2015

Dna-MeyersfeldDna-YoffeIn 2010, CamCheck highlighted the claims for a diet based on genetic testing offered by Dnalysis, “the second company in the world to offer a DNA diet”, according to its CEO, Dr Daniel Meyersfeld, and Yael Joffe. We called it a scam for the science did not support the claims. The ASA ruled against the claims for the company, and subsequently, a breach ruling of the previous ASA ruling. Well that has not stopped these two from marketing the claims, as these are still evident on their website.

The reason for this post? In an article published in the highly reputable journal, Obesity, titled Genetic association studies of obesity in Africa: a systematic review, the authors conclude that “[A]ccording to this data, over 300 polymorphisms in 42 genes have been studied in various population groups within Africa . . “, “[O]f the 36 polymorphisms previously validated by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) elsewhere, only FTO and MC4R polymorphisms showed significant associations with obesity in black South Africans, Nigerians and Ghanaians“,  “However, these data are insufficient to establish the true nature of genetic susceptibility to obesity in populations within Africa“.

In other words, measuring DNA does not really help with constructing a diet in these groups.

What does this company’s own unpublished research show? Well, it has never been published. They have added the following to their website: “While healthy nutrition may in certain cases result in weight loss, this depends on many factors. The DNA diet provides a tailor made nutrition and exercise programme. Healthy eating and exercise may result in weight loss, but this is not guaranteed“. Well there is no guarantee that DNA analysis will either.

Genetic association studies of obesity in Africa: a systematic review
Y. Y. Yako, J. B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, E. V. Balti, T. E. Matsha, E. Sobngwi, R. T. Erasmus and A. P. Kengne
Article first published online: 2 FEB 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/obr.12260

Summary

Obesity is increasing in Africa, but the underlying genetic background largely remains unknown. We assessed existing evidence on genetic determinants of obesity among populations within Africa. MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched and the bibliographies of retrieved articles were examined. Included studies had to report on the association of a genetic marker with obesity indices and the presence/occurrence of obesity/obesity trait. Data were extracted on study design and characteristics, genetic determinants and effect estimates of associations with obesity indices. According to this data, over 300 polymorphisms in 42 genes have been studied in various population groups within Africa mostly through the candidate gene approach. Polymorphisms in genes such as ACE, ADIPOQ, ADRB2, AGRP, AR, CAPN10, CD36, C7orf31, DRD4, FTO, MC3R, MC4R, SGIP1 and LEP were found to be associated with various measures of obesity. Of the 36 polymorphisms previously validated by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) elsewhere, only FTO and MC4R polymorphisms showed significant associations with obesity in black South Africans, Nigerians and Ghanaians. However, these data are insufficient to establish the true nature of genetic susceptibility to obesity in populations within Africa. There has been recent progress in describing the genetic architecture of obesity among populations within Africa. This effort needs to be sustained via GWAS studies.

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