7 On Your Side: Do-It-Yourself DNA Diet - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/13/05

7 On Your Side: Do-It-Yourself DNA Diet

From Atkins to Weight Watchers, law student Ariel Leichter-Maroko says dieting has been a case of trial and error. "I'd stop losing weight and then i would get discouraged and I'd stop the diet," says Leichter-Maroko until, he put down his law books and turned to science to solve his diet dilemma. "I have lost about four inches from my waist."

Ariel credits the hot new DNA diet for his success. Creator Carolyn Katzin says one-size-fits-all diets are 'out', food plans based on your DNA are 'in.' "We can tailor our particular diet to focus on foods that would be complimentary to that particular genetic variation," says Katzin. What's behind these customized diets? A whole new field called nutritional genetics, which explores how DNA and food interact. Ariel was told his genes prove carb control is his best weight loss weapon. "My body would react to the insulin that's released a lot worse than some other people," says Leichter-Maroko. A whole new industry is emerging: online companies and clinics selling DNA testing kits that promise to give you personalized plans for losing weight and staving off chronic diseases. "we test for nineteen different genes," says Howard Coleman with Genelex. "These genes are involved with heart, health, vitamin usage and insulin resistance." These do-it-yourself kits range from about $200 to more than $400. They come with a lifestyle questionnaire, swabs to collect cells from the inside of your cheek, and a return envelope for mailing the sample to the lab. Two or three weeks later ...you get a report. "It gives you specific advice just for you," says Coleman.

"Genetics is an extremely complex and, to many people, confusing topic," says Dr. Jonathan Zonana with the American College of Medical Genetics. Dr. Zonana says we're just beginning to unravel the relationship between genes and food. He fears these diet companies are taking limited research out of context. "Many of these kits or panels that are being marketed really don't have scientific validation in terms of their even being useful or effective," says Dr. Zonana. The National Cancer Institute agrees, calling the testing kits premature. But DNA diet proponents say they can back up their claims. "This is based on the mainstream of scientific research," says Coleman. Katzin adds, "There's plenty of peer reviewed scientific literature to back up the implications." Ariel says he's just getting started...but he doesn't need more studies to prove heredity holds the key to winning the battle of the bulge. "It's been a life changing event for me, it's a lifestyle to live by."

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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