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How To Know If A Weight Loss Diet Will Work: New Report

Weight loss diet

When choosing a weight loss diet, it would be great to know the chances it will work before you even start. Researchers may have found some clues, and the answers lie in your DNA.

Diet success may depend on your genes

The study was conducted in a group of 107 overweight or obese adolescents who were taking part in a 10-week multidisciplinary weight loss program that involved both diet and exercise. While progress in weight loss could be seen on the outside, the scientists were mainly concerned about what was hidden: specifically, changes in DNA methylation.

DNA methylation is a critical process that involves adding a methyl group to a specific area of the DNA sequence. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the hereditary substance located within the nucleus of all human cells and it composed of four chemical bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.

DNA methylation changes the way genes express themselves (i.e., gene expression), which is how information from a gene is used to make gene products such as proteins. In this new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, found that different DNA methylation levels of five epigenetic markers were associated with a better chance of losing weight.

Those five epigenetic markers--located in or near AQP9, DUSP22, HIPK3, TNNT1, and TNNI3—“showed differential methylation levels between high and low responders to the multidisciplinary weight loss intervention.” According to Amelia Marti, PhD, PharmD, one of the study’s coauthors, “we describe five putative epigenetic biomarkers that could help to predict the response to a weight loss intervention in obese adolescents.”

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In other words, reading a person’s genes could help predict whether he or she will respond well to a weight loss diet and could also help identify targets for making the diet work better. Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the study, explained that this discovery “now we know that the way that genes express themselves (via epigenetics) plays an important role” in whether a diet and exercise program will succeed or fail.

What’s the best weight loss diet?
The best weight loss diet is one that is based on an eating program you can live with for the rest of your life. Although there are many fad diets and quick weight loss plans, typically they are effective (if at all) only short-term, and weight is regained, often along with additional pounds.

Several dietary programs have been shown to be healthful, help with weight loss, and to have staying power—in other words, foods you can live with for the rest of your life. Some of them include

Regular exercise and stress management also should be part of any weight loss diet and lifelong nutritional program.

Moleres A et al. Differential DNA methylation patterns between high and low responders to a weight loss intervention in overweight or obese adolescents: the EVASYON study. FASEB Journal 2013 Jun; 27:2504-12

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