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Testing for Fitness

A number of services have popped up that test consumers' DNA to tailor fitness and nutrition programs, BBC News reports. But it wonders just how accurate and effective such tests are.

It notes that Mandy Mayer swears by the DNAFit test she took. The test told her that she can't handle caffeine or refined foods well and that her body would respond better to endurance training. By following that advice, she says she lost weight and went down a size. "Without a shadow of a doubt it was down to the test," Mayer tells the BBC.

Robin Smith, chief executive of Orig3n, which offers similar testing, says test results help people make better decisions. "Knowing what your DNA says about your body's food sensitivities, food breakdown, hunger, weight, vitamins, allows you to become a more informed consumer," Smith says.

However, the BBC adds that some researchers are skeptical about such fitness DNA tests. University College London's Jess Buxton says that while she isn't against people learning about their genetic information, she does "think that the amount of useful information that personalized health tests can offer is very limited at present because we still know very little about the effect of most SNPs."

Similarly, the BBC wonders, "do we really need a testing kit to tell as to eat more vegetables and fewer fats as part of a healthy balanced diet — advice that has been around for decades?"