Ever wonder why some people seem to lose weight easily and yet others, on exactly the same regimen, don’t seem to be able to lose at all?
The answer always was that people are different.
But to understand just how different, we need modern science, especially an understanding of DNA variability.
Everyone knows, or thinks they know, about DNA and genes. What few people, including doctors, seem to understand is that genes are not fixed but subject to tiny variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs for short (pronounced SNIPs).
These little variations affect the expression of the gene, so that sometimes it doesn’t really manifest properly. If that happens to be a gene connected with how food is processed in the body, you will quickly realize that SNPs may markedly alter how a person responds to a reducing diet.
And so it is.
Now researchers from Stanford University conducted a study in which a person’s response to a variety of diets was compared to certain genes and their inevitable SNPs. The diets included: the Atkins diet (very low carbohydrate), the Zone diet (low carbohydrate), the Ornish diet (very low fat) or a health professional’s diet (a low-fat diet that generally follows the U.S Agriculture Department’s Food Pyramid). The women also had the inside of their cheeks swabbed to collect a DNA sample.
Researchers used the genetic information to assign women to a “genotype-appropriate” diet, an eating plan that would seem to be the most effective for them given their particular genetic makeup.
They found that women assigned to the correct diet based on their genotype lost two to three times more weight after 12 months than those who were assigned to a diet that was wrong for their gene type.
When the researchers looked at only the most extreme diets (Atkins versus Ornish), the results were even more stark. Women assigned to their correct diet for their genotype lost five times as much weight as those on the incorrect diet, the study found.
Moreover, the women on the correct diets also showed improvements in their “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases in harmful triglycerides.
Interestingly, the different diets performed similarly; there was no “best diet”. But among the women assigned to each diet, there was a striking variation in how they responded to that diet. In other words, on each diet, there were a lot who lost weight, there were a lot who didn’t lose weight and there were even some that gained weight.
The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Conference 2010, in San Francisco.
The womens’ genotype was established by a DNA test, made by Interleukin Genetics in Waltham, Mass., which sells for $149. Quite affordable for the average individual.
Of course there were doubters. Dr. Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine at University of Colorado School of Medicine, said the study results were very preliminary and had to be confirmed by larger studies before he would recommend that anyone have their diet genotyped.
He admitted that the study findings could explain small differences in the way people respond to diet. But then went on to say that right now the most important predictor of successful dieting is compliance, which is about the stupidest comment I have ever heard in this context.
Duh! Eckel! Don’t you get it! People who complied did not always lose weight. Sometimes a woman even gained weight on a regimen. Your story is old hat; it just doesn’t hold water. And women who are tired of being told they are liars when they claimed to have adhered to a diet and failed to lose weight now have ammunition to whack the idiot judgmental doctor on the head!