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Or Just More Greens, Less Sugar

A Bay Area startup plans to provide a personalized diet and service that's based on an analysis of customers' genes, but Vox's Julia Belluz writes that she isn't convinced.

The company, Habit, is to begin offering its service next year, and, for $299, will analyze customers' blood and saliva samples at 60 biomarkers to see how they respond to certain foods. Through the company's app, customers can access data on how certain genes might be affecting their response to caffeine or lactose and what sort of diet the company's algorithm says is best suited to them. They can also consult with a dietitian through the app. Belluz adds that the company also plans to offer meal kits à la Blue Apron for an added, undisclosed fee.

But researchers tell Belluz that there's not much in the scientific literature that backs up such services, and she notes that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises against direct-to-consumer nutrigenomic services.

"From a scientific perspective, [personalized nutrition] is problematic," the University of Alberta's Tim Caulfield tells her. "For most human beings, this information isn't relevant. It's not going to benefit us any more than the basic health advice."