DNA-Tailored Diets? I Don’t Think So!

It’s January so once again the dubious diet aids are being wheeeled out. The latest is a diet and exercise regime tailored to your DNA. This story has appeared in the Daily Mail and Metro as well as the Manchester press though currently the Daily Mail link is broken (I have emailed them about it) and it does not appear on the Metro’s website.

There is so doubt that there is a genetic component to obesity and people with slower metabolisms will need a different regime to those with faster regimes. But tailored to your individual DNA? I smell woo, frankly. But fair’s fair, the article references Dr Nichola McChrystal of BioClinics (who do the tests for £125 for children and £195 for adults) so I decided to check it out a little further.

BioClinics turn out to be an outfit who undertake DNA, drug and alcohol tests though oddly I have been unable to find this particular test on their website. I have emailed them for clarification and will share any results.

In the mean time I decided to discuss this with the uusual suspects. One member posted this link concerning very similar claims made in South Africa in 2011. A complaint about adverts making such a claim had been submitted to the South African ASA and got a ruling that says in part:

There is nothing in the respondent’s submissions to verify that its test can pinpoint such genetic factors in the manner claimed, and apply these findings in such a personalised and specific manner to enable guaranteed weight loss, due to the personalised diet and exercise plan resulting from ones DNA, or genetic predisposition. In addition, the respondent did not submit any information as to why the Directorate should accept that any of the documentation submitted emanated from, or was evaluated and confirmed by an independent, credible, expert in the relevant field.

Accordingly, the claims in the advertisement are currently unsubstantiated and in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.

Given the above finding:

The advertisement must be withdrawn;

The process to withdraw the advertisement must be actioned with immediate effect upon receipt of ruling;

The withdrawal of the advertisement must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and

The advertisement may not be used again in its current format in future.

Googling for DNA tailored diets gets lots of press items on such claims but no actual research. Given that, I suspect the ASASA’s finding that there is no credible, independent scientific evidence supporting these claims still holds. I therefore feel sure that if an advert making such a claim were to appear in the UK, our ASA would make a similar ruling.

Of course, if the press write advertorials making such claims on your behalf, you are free and clear. Your claims are out there and cannot be sanctioned by the ASA because they are “news”.

Stop Press 10 January 2014: BioClinics have sent me this link to their claims> Interestingly, they are on a separate website from BioClinics. They have also sent me a 19 page pdf on the science which I shall read and blog on when I have time.

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