Health and science go hand in hand, and while technology has seriously changed the fitness tracking game, there is still a gap in data when it comes to genetics. But this major milestone in weight loss and nutrition may be coming sooner than we think. According to a new study published in Obesity journal, genetic information and data collection from noninvasive, portable devices may soon be incorporated in weight loss treatment.
So now, instead of trying to mimic your friends weight loss program that helped them lose 20 pounds, you can specifically create a routine for you and your genes. According to Molly Bray, a geneticist and professor at University of Texas at Austin, the technology isn’t completely up to speed yet, but will be soon.
“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,” Bray says in the release. Five years may seem like a long time, but according to the release, the current use of wearable fitness technology will only help the process along. Additionally, the process will be integrated in a much easier way, because so many people are already accustomed to using apps or trackers not only during fitness routines, but also in everyday life.
So how exactly will the genetic info be collected? According to Bray, the system could be as easy as collecting a saliva sample that will be then genetically sequenced in a lab. Automated seniors such as wearable technology could also be utilized alongside this to collect information such as behavior, environment, diet, activity, and stress.
The real challenge is not the data that needs to be collected; in fact, according to the study, most of the information needed can already be collected. The challenge is producing the tools to analyze the data and provide the users with useful information.
Other challenges include being able to aid people not only in short term, but also in a life long struggle. “We are pretty good at helping people lose weight in the short term. 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 says in a release.
The long term issue with keeping weight off could potentially be solved by figuring out the connection to the genetic differences of people.
According to the study, 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. Based on this, the study shows that depending on a person’s specific genetic makeup, exercise might be less effective at reducing weight for some people compared to others.
This would explain why your friend would be able to lose weight using a specific workout regimen and diet, while the same regimen may not cause you to gain or lose weight. The next steps in the study of genes and how they change weight loss or aid in weight loss goals is by finding ways to utilize what Bray and team have uncovered thus far.
“We’ve made great strides in our understanding of what drives eating behavior, how fat cells are formed and how metabolism is altered before and after the onset of obesity,” Bray says in the release.