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23AndMe launches ‘massive’ weight loss study

23AndMe, the mail-order DNA testing company, is launching a ‘massive’ study on how genes affect weight loss.

Starting this month, the California-based firm will invite 1.3 million of their more than three million customers to take part in doing a diet or exercise regime for three months.

Public health analysts say the investigation has the potential to deliver important findings for medical research, given the company’s wide reach and attractive marketing campaigns.

As a business, 23AndMe hope to collate more information to draw up personalized weight loss tips for customers, complete with predictions of how they will do.

Starting this month, the California-based mail-order DNA test firm will invite all 1.3 million of their customers to take part, each picking a diet or exercise regime to commit to for three months

The study will ultimately involve 100,000 people, asking each to choose a diet (out of two options) or an exercise program to do for three months.

At the end, researchers will compare each person’s progress with their genes, to understand whether some people are more predisposed to weight loss than others.

Mail-order DNA testing has fast become a booming business, with people sending off their saliva to find out what their body needs to be healthier and prevent disease.

23andMe was the first company to sell FDA-approved DNA testing kits, telling consumers their chances of developing diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. 

Consumers can choose to purchase kits without without the ancestry tests, but the combination – which costs $199 – is 23andMe’s most popular option.  

With it, they receive an ‘analysis’ explaining how to read the dense findings of a DNA test.

However, the fad has come under fire for trying to simplify an incredibly complex field, promising simple answers to not-so-simple questions. 

Speaking to Daily Mail Online last month, New York University bioethicist Dr Arthur Caplan warned many consumers may not take the general findings with a pinch of salt, and could gear their lives around them. 

As he put it: ‘If I turn up negative on a risk factor for diabetes, that doesn’t mean I can go eat at fast food joints every day.’