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The DNA Diet
Emerging science may help with weight loss


March 2013

In our world of designer clothes, cars, jewelry, furniture and cookware, consider a designer diet based on your DNA.

The emerging field of nutrigenomics matches your genotype with a food plan that is supposed to maximize your ability to lose weight. The multibillion dollar weight loss industry makes it as easy as one, two, three. First, you swab your saliva. Next, you send it to a company specializing in DNA diets. Finally, you receive the analysis or your genotype along with a meal plan that complements your DNA. Prices begin at just under $200.

Since our genes determine the expression of cells in your body, including how you absorb, metabolize and store food, the theory is solid. Dr. Roy Silverstein, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, says, "If we can begin to use some of this genetic data to develop individualized approaches, that in some ways would be the holy grail of weight loss."

But having your genotype and knowing what to do with it are two different things; Silverstein says interpreting the information is in its infancy. "We’d love to continue doing research to one day find that genetic answer, but we’re still years away from getting there."

This doesn’t mean a DNA diet won’t work. "If you have the motivation to stick with any low-calorie diet you will lose weight, but spending money on a DNA analysis is probably premature at this point," says Silverstein.

Eating For Your Body Type: Diet Fact or Fiction?

Diets based on your body type are a close relative to a DNA diet. After all, our genes help determine where we put weight on and take it off. Here again, researchers in southeastern Wisconsin believe you are better off sticking to the basics: Eat less, move more, stay motivated.

Andrea Moosreiner, a registered dietitian at the Medical College of Wisconsin, says, "There is no body of science that tells you eating certain foods related to your body shape will do a better job at helping you lose weight." However your body type can signal your degree of danger for obesity-related illness including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

Know Your Body Type — New Shape in Town

Have you ever heard a premenopausal woman complain about "getting thick in the middle?" Tell her she’s a brand new body type recognized by scientists called the Avocado. Moosreiner explains, "This is most prevalent among women in their late 30s and 40s. As a woman begins losing estrogen her fat distribution may change, moving from the thighs closer to the middle of her body."


Your Shape and Related Health Risk

Your body type can signal an increased risk in certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Size up your body type and health risk below.




The Apple

You store fat in your abdomen placing you in the danger zone. Belly fat is more prone to inflammation and inflammation triggers disease.

The Avocado

Your stored fat distribution is moving north from the butt and thighs to the abdomen. Beware: You could be a pear morphing into an apple.

The Hourglass

These coveted curves are hard to come by. The hourglass is the least common shape. You gain weight in your arms, chest, hips and butt. Manage your weight and you’re good to go.

The Pear

You carry extra weight in your hips, buttocks and thighs. That’s the bad news. The good news is this isn’t as dangerous as having a big tummy.

The Ruler

This is the most common body shape among women. You tend to be thin and your fat is distributed evenly. If you gain weight it may be in the tummy, so be careful.

Eat Healthier

Andrea Moosreiner, a registered dietician at Medical College of Wisconsin, suggests adult women try this meal plan to help lose weight.

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This story ran in the March 2013 issue of: