Obesity Gene Testing Offers Psychological Benefit

Genetic testing results reduce self-blame, don't seem to undermine importance of lifestyle choices

Obesity Gene Testing Offers Psychological Benefit

FRIDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Results from genetic testing for weight gain-related genes may offer psychological benefits beyond their limited clinical utility, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

Using semi-structured interviews of 18 volunteers, Susanne F. Meisel and Jane Wardle, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues explored psychological and behavioral reactions to genetic testing feedback for a weight-related gene (FTO).

The researchers found that the respondents perceived the gene test result as scientifically objective, which removed some of the emotion attached to the issue of weight control. Relief from self-blame was reported by those who were struggling with weight control. All respondents emphasized the importance of lifestyle choices in long-term weight management, although they recognized the role of both genes and environment, and there was no evidence for either complacency or fatalism in responses. Respondents evaluated the testing positively and found it motivating and informative, regardless of the test result.

"As the role of genetic counselors is likely to expand, awareness of reasons for genetic testing for common, complex conditions and reactions to the test result is important," the authors write.

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