"The three genes they have identified are all genes that could affect energy balance, and the idea that polymorphisms in these genes could affect energy balance is of interest scientifically," Eckel said. "This could explain small differences in the way people respond to diet. But right now the most important predictor of successful dieting is compliance."
Stanford's Nelson, a nutritional scientist, said she was encouraged by the findings but not surprised. During her career, she's seen wide variations in weight loss among people assigned to identical diets. Some results could be explained by how well people adhered to the diet, but not all, she said.
"You do need to be on a reduced-calorie diet. You still need to eat healthy. But there is a difference in how people process calories," Nelson said. "Knowing your genotype is just one more tool to help the weight-loss process."
Interleukin Genetics has applied for a patent on the DNA test, Bender said.
For tips on losing weight, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Mindy Dopler Nelson, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; Lew Bender, CEO, Interleukin Genetics, Waltham, Mass.; Robert Eckel, M.D., past president, American Heart Association, and professor of medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colo.; March 3, 2010, presentation, American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Conference 2010, San Francisco
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