Ask the Nutritionist
Erin, Brewster, Massachusetts
A: If it's too good to be true, it probably is.
While one day it might be possible to send a cheek swab to a lab and get a personalized diet recommendation, that isn't the case yet.
Nutrigenomic research, the intersection of nutrition and your DNA, is still in its early stages, and while the research is promising and exciting, at-home genetic tests aren't proven or regulated.
They are also pricey. The cost for this particular service is $150 per test, and other similar tests can range from $400-$1,000 per test.
The FDA has not evaluated the safety and efficacy of at-home genetic tests or their claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that "the FDA and CDC [Centers for Disease Control] say they know of no valid scientific studies showing that genetic tests can be used safely or effectively to recommend nutritional choices."
For more information on the reality behind the promises, check out the FTC's 2009 report, At-Home Genetic Tests: A Healthy Dose of Skepticism May Be the Best Prescription.
The best advice for weight management is less exotic, but its results are more predictable: exercise most days of the week and follow a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, full of whole grains and lean protein, and low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.