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Dec 26, 2015 02:18 AM EST

Weight-loss plans based on a person's genes coming soon


Researchers have suggested in a report that overweight people could be provided with weight-loss diet plans based on a person's genome, Dispatch Tribunal reports.

The report was published in the journal Obesity.

According to researchers, overweight people could soon be provided with personalized diet and exercise plans designed on their genetic data, an approach that has been termed is as "precision weight loss."

"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," says Molly Bray, a geneticist and professor of nutritional sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, who led the working group.

The authors of the report noted that to make the 'precision weight loss' program a reality, there was a need for better analytical tools to establish the relationships between genetics, behavior and weight-related diseases.

"We are pretty good at helping people lose weight in the short term," says Bray. "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."

Bray added that the lowering costs of genome sequencing and portable monitors gives scientists the ability to collect the data they need to do the fundamental research behind precision weight loss.

Scientists have also discovered a gene, dubbed as the "obesity gene" that causes energy from food to be stored as fat rather than be burned.

"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," says Bray.

"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."

A number of research projects have revealed that about half of the variation in people's body mass index can be attributed to genetic factors, while the rest is due to environmental factors, including diet and exercise.

The report grew out of a workshop convened by the National Institutes of Health in 2014 titled "Genes, Behaviors, and Response to Weight Loss Interventions."

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