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Could decoding DNA be the solution to obesity?

Source: AAP

Have you tried to diet so many times in order to lose weight but failed? Maybe it's all in your genetic make-up.

"What I can tell you is that lots of Australians are trying to lose weight," Dr. Lior Rauchberger tells SBS Hmong.

"They are trying different diets all the time but there is a lot of guesswork that goes into dieting and they are doing a lot of trial and error."

Dr Rauchberger is the CEO of the Melbourne-based genetic interpretation company my-DNA, which has carried out research in the field of diet and weight loss revealing that the average Australian has tried four unsuccessful diets attempts, whilst dieting is never ending for one in 10 (12 percent), who admits to being on a diet all year round.

It also found that over a third (38 percent) of people in Australia attempt to diet every year, with a further 29 percent admitting to putting the weight back on after following a diet plan. Whilst one in five 20 percent of those surveyed confessed that it doesn’t matter what they do, they just can’t lose weight.

"With advances in science and technology, we can now understand people's DNA a lot better," says Dr Rachberger. "We can cost-effectively get a sample with someone, get their DNA, and then send them a report that tells them how their unique body processes certain types of food and providing them a report that is personalized report."

So how does DNA  come into it? my-DNA states that "a DNA test can be carried out to learn more about our weight and appetite, fat storage and risk of elevated triglyceride levels."

Dr Rauchberger explains, "so what it is is that rather than guessing what is the best diet for you, doing a very simple cheek flop [taking a mouth swab], we can provide information about what is the best diet for them."

"For instance, when you get a personalized report, it will say based on your genetic profile, you should go on,  for example, a high protein diet or it might say you should go on a low-fat diet or diet that is rich in Mediterranean food.

"Those recommendations aren't just the average recommendations that are suitable for the average person. They are recommendations that are based on how your body work which is what their DNA tells us to optimized and improved the chances of success with any program that they might go on."

Dr. Rauchberger said that testing personal DNA has been available for all Australians for some time. They can access it through participating pharmacies in Australia or through his company my-DNA. Though it also comes with potential risk to personal privacy and the integrity of DNA data. Therefore he wants people to make sure that they are comfortable with and are happy to do the test only with reputable providers.

He further states that over the past three years there has been a lot of research not only about genetics or diets - because personalized diets are just a part of the solution -  but also about vitamins, exercises, and fitness. And all these are just the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, he would like to encourage everyone to understand about their DNA and know their bodies.

Is obesity the result of lifestyle choice or genetic disease? Check out SBS #TheObesityMyth on SBS OnDemand.

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