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23andMe launches 100,000-person study of genetics and weight loss

Consumer gene testing company 23andMe is launching a large online study on the relationship between genetics and weight loss behaviors. Drawing volunteer subjects from its existing customers, the company will investigate three different weight loss strategies in a study that hopes to recruit 100,000 participants.

“This is to my knowledge the first example of a genome-wide association study for behavioral weight loss that is being done,” Dr. Liana Del Gobbo, lead scientist on the study, told MobiHealthNews. “In the past, prior investigations were candidate gene studies. They relied on single snips or single genetic variants that were drawn from the literature. And often these snips didn’t replicate.”

After recruitment closes on January 8th, the study will begin a 12 week active intervention in three groups, each of which will have educational content delivered to them via email and a web portal. One group will be instructed to follow a high-fat low-carb diet, one will follow a high-fiber diet, and one group will be focused on more strenuous physical activity (though all three groups will be encouraged to increase physical activity). After the 12-week active intervention, 23andMe will follow up at six and 12 months.

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