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But Useful?

Some researchers are questioning whether a predictive genetic test for obesity would actually be valuable, NPR reports.

Last month, researchers led by Massachusetts General Hospital's Sekar Kathiresan reported in the journal Cell that they had developed a polygenic score that could predict, at birth, someone's genetic risk of later developing obesity. By adulthood, they reported, individuals with high scores weighed an average 30 pounds more than individuals with low scores. This polygenic score, Kathiresan and his team said, could help identify people earlier on in life for interventions to head off obesity.

But as NPR notes, the score the team developed isn't perfect — 17 percent of individuals with high risk scores had normal body weights — and the University of Cambridge's Theresa Marteau tells it that personalized risk scores don't generally lead to changes in people's behavior. Further, as 40 percent of the US population is obese, Emory University's Cecile Janssens, adds that prevention efforts should include everyone.

"One needs to do more than just be able to show a strong statistical association," Ewan Birney from the European Bioinformatics Institute tells NPR. "One really needs to show that you can then use that to do an intervention."