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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dieting success determined by genetics

Karen Reed of North Carolina State University and her colleagues from NCSU, the University of Toronto, the University of Queensland, and the Georgia Institute of Technology have proven what we’ve all suspected: diets do not work equally well for everyone. OK, at least not for all fruit flies.

Reed and her associates started with 146 distinct genetic lines of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). The flies were given four types of diet: nutritionally balanced, low calorie, high sugar, and high fat. The flies were then carefully observed, and metabolic traits and weight were measured. At the end of the study, the researchers found that different diets given to genetically identical flies only altered weight and metabolism by an average of 1-2%. In contrast, genetically distinct flies differed in weight gain by up to 23%. In other words, the genetic makeup of the flies played a much larger part in determining whether they gained weight than did even high fat or high sugar diets.

The obvious conclusion, if this data translates to humans, is that one-size-fits-all diet plans are likely to be ineffective for many people. Eventually, people may have their genomes analyzed and specific diet plans tailored for them.