Patient Engagement

App combining genomics, fitness and diet highlights nutrigenomics trend

Genetic testing businesses to personalize fitness and diet regimens are making their way into the consumer space, for better or for worse.

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Genomics and big data analytics have become part of a growing fitness trend to personalize workout and nutrition regimens over the years. Critics have called into question the usefulness of these tests and note many lack scientific validation— a STAT reporter likened the quality of feedback to a horoscope reading. But whether you call it precision nutrition or nutrigenomics, these genetic testing businesses are making their way into the consumer space, for better or for worse.

UK-based DNAFit recently launched Elevate, a product that provides an online training program based on the results of a saliva swab to evaluate 45 genetic variants, according to a MobiHealthNews story on the business. The company explains on its website that our genetic makeup can affect how we metabolize foods and how we respond to different types of exercise. Users pay $126 (£99) for the product. They enter their weight and other relevant info. The app provides a workout and training schedule with video coaching instructions on how to carry out the exercises.

DNAFit also promotes itself to Ancestry.com and 23andMe customers — two companies also in the genetic testing business (Ancestry.com has a genetic testing division, AncestryDNA).

Earlier this year Pathway Genomics and IBM Watson announced they had teamed up to develop an app called Pathway Genomics OME. The app, which was in closed Alpha earlier this year, uses cognitive computing and genetics data taken from a DNA sample from users to give diet and exercise guidance along with a metabolism report based on users’ genetic traits, health habits, and data from GPS and wearable health monitors. It also uses information in from Apple HealthKit.

In future versions of OME, users will be able to decide whether to include this data in their electronic health records, insurance information, and other datasets. The app is not yet available to the public, although consumers can pay $599 for a PathwayFit report to get a personalized diet and fitness regimen based on their genetic makeup.

These technology advances don’t come cheap, clearly. They rival the cost of a fitness wearable, for goodness sake. As MobiHealth noted in the article, the technology is still in the early days, so it will be interesting to see how these companies evolve and who is left standing in a few years’ time.

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