Weight Management Test
Obesity has become an increasingly important clinical and public health challenge worldwide. According to the International Obesity Taskforce estimates, there are about 1.1 billion overweight and 350 million obese individuals worldwide and these numbers are expected to grow significantly in the next decade. In the US, prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the past 25 years. Nearly two-thirds of adults are believed to be overweight or obese. Overweight and obese subjects are at a higher risk of developing one or more serious medical conditions including hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart diseases and diabetes. In the past few years public health agencies are developing strategies and methods to combat this complex etiology.
Development of obesity is a linear progression in otherwise healthy individuals with an overweight condition as an intermediary condition. Overweight/obesity is characterized as an excess of adipose tissue. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health agencies recommend measurement of three different parameters to determine overweight/obesity status for an individual, namely, body mass index (BMI), total body fat and waist/hip ratio (WHR). The cutoff points for each of these parameters have been well defined.
Human obesity arises from the interactions of multiple genes, environmental factors and behaviors and renders management and prevention of obesity very challenging. According to WHO, the lack of physical activity and easy availability of palatable foods are the principle modified characteristic of our modern lifestyle that has contributed to obesity worldwide. Despite the fact that we are all exposed to the same environment, not everyone is becoming obese. This could be attributed to individual genetic differences. Genetics determines an individual’s susceptibility to become obese when exposed to an unfavorable environment as well as the way a person can respond to diet and exercise. There have been multiple reports describing the heritability of obesity and also exploring genetic association studies to identify the gene-gene, gene environment and gene-diet interactions involved in the development of obesity. These studies have identified a certain number of SNPs that respond to diet or exercise. For example, certain SNPs make some people more sensitive to the amount of fat in the diet, while other SNP’s make some people more resistant to exercise-induced weight loss.
In June 2009, Interleukin Genetics launched the first weight management genetic test of its kind. The Inherent Health Weight Management (WM) test panel is designed to assist consumers in more effective management of body weight by guiding diet and exercise programs based on genetic differences in metabolism and fat absorption. The WM test panel uses commonly occurring genetic variations to determine an individual’s inherent differences in fat absorption and metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, and responsiveness to exercise. The information from the WM test panel will assist people in the choice of nutrition and exercise to better maintain a healthy body weight and composition that are appropriate for their individual genotype.
Another program in the weight management area is in development and involves a genetic test to assist with medical and surgical management of obese individuals. Interleukin Genetics has proprietary genetic tests that have been shown in multiple studies to predict which obese patients were resistant to weight loss when placed on a medically supervised calorie-restricted diet. Interleukin is collaborating with the Geisinger Institute, a leading hospital for medical and surgical management of obesity, to validate a genetic test panel for management of weight loss in obese patients.