New Weight-Loss Program Tailored To Your Genome May Be Coming Soon
Written by: Justin Cowart
There have been a group of health experts who have predicted that the next huge advancement in assisting overweight people to achieve a healthier weight will soon be specialized to an individual’s genetic data; this will allow them to customize physical activity plans and diets. It’s a new coming approach known as “precision weight loss.”
In a recent summary report on the genetics of weight loss – which had been developed by some of the top leading experts in this particular field – have found that the largest challenge to actually realizing this dream is the strong need for better analytical tools in order to be able to discover the relationships between the behavior, weight-related diseases and genetics.
In the report that was published in the January edition of the journal Obesity, an article summarizes what the scientists currently know on the factors that can influence weight regain and weight loss.
This helps to identify just how genetic information and even data collection from noninvasive, highly portable devices may soon be incorporated into weight loss treatment and research.
Geneticist and professor of nutritional sciences from the University of Texas, Molly Bray, says,
“I think within five years, we’ll see people start to use a combination of genetic, behavioral and other sophisticated data to develop individualized weight management plans.”
Bray goes on to speculate that in our near future, patients may be able to submit saliva samples for gene sequencing, along with utilizing automated sensors to be able to collect information about such factors as diet, stress, activity and environment. A computer algorithm could then take this information and be able to provide patients with specific types of recommendations to achieve their target weight.
Bray also says that falling cost of this type of genome sequencing, plus the portable monitors that can track in real time, people’s environment and behavior, means that our scientists already have the ability to collect the type of data they would need to do the required fundamental research behind precision weight loss.
According to this study, the real challenge now is for the researchers to develop the required tools to be able to analyze this type of data.
Bray says that,
“We are pretty good at helping people lose weight in the short term. But the stats on long-term weight loss are pretty dismal. We still don’t understand the process of weight regain very well, either from a behavioral or a biological standpoint.”
So far, scientists have been able to uncover some of the genetic basis for weight-related diseases, such as the discovery of a type of gene that appears to cause energy from food to actually be stored as fat rather than be burned off. Some reporters have even dubbed it the “obesity gene,” but Bray cautions everyone that it really isn’t that simple,
“When you go back and see how much of the variation in this gene accounts for the variation in body size in the general population, it’s really small. So that highlights that there are going to be several genes involved with obesity and they’re going to interact with each other in complicated ways. And that’s certainly true of weight loss and maintenance too.”
Obesity also places a huge burden on the health care system as it is, which also increases a person’s risk for numerous diseases including, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, obesity is on the rise at an alarming rate all round the whole world.
“Obviously prevention would be the best approach, but there are literally millions of individuals who are currently obese and are in dire need of more effective strategies for long-term weight loss that will ultimately improve overall health,” says Bray. “Obesity is one of the gravest problems of our times.”
There have been multiple research projects that have been able to show that around half of the variation within people’s body mass index can actually be attributed to genetic factors, including exercise and diet.
One example is, depending on an individual person’s specific genetic makeup, that exercise might actually be less effective at being able to reduce weight for some people when compared with others.
“They actually say ‘Oh thank you. Finally someone acknowledges that it’s harder work for me than it is for others.’ And then I think they’re a little more forgiving of themselves and they’re more motivated to make a change,” says Bray.
“When people hear that genes may be playing a role in their weight loss success, they don’t say, ‘Oh great, I just won’t exercise any more.'”
This particular report grew from a workshop that was convened by the National Institutes of Health in 2014 that was titled “Genes, Behaviors and Response to Weight Loss Interventions.” It is able to synthesize a very broad range of research from the institutions all around the world.
Bray finally states that,
“We’ve made great strides in our understanding of what drives eating behavior, how fat cells are formed and how metabolism is altered before and after the onset of obesity.
“The time is ripe to take this wealth of data and find ways to utilize it more effectively to treat people in need.”
I strongly believe with further research into this wonderful breakthrough, everyone will be able to lose weight and have their bodies actually heal and even potentially better prevent diseases like diabetes.
We would love to hear all about your thoughts and opinions about this topic in the comments below!
Image source: Extreme Tech
Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
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