Disclosure of genetic information and change in dietary intake: a randomized controlled trial

PLoS One. 2014 Nov 14;9(11):e112665. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112665. eCollection 2014.


Background: Proponents of consumer genetic tests claim that the information can positively impact health behaviors and aid in chronic disease prevention. However, the effects of disclosing genetic information on dietary intake behavior are not clear.

Methods: A double-blinded, parallel group, 2:1 online randomized controlled trial was conducted to determine the short- and long-term effects of disclosing nutrition-related genetic information for personalized nutrition on dietary intakes of caffeine, vitamin C, added sugars, and sodium. Participants were healthy men and women aged 20-35 years (n = 138). The intervention group (n = 92) received personalized DNA-based dietary advice for 12-months and the control group (n = 46) received general dietary recommendations with no genetic information for 12-months. Food frequency questionnaires were collected at baseline and 3- and 12-months after the intervention to assess dietary intakes. General linear models were used to compare changes in intakes between those receiving general dietary advice and those receiving DNA-based dietary advice.

Results: Compared to the control group, no significant changes to dietary intakes of the nutrients were observed at 3-months. At 12-months, participants in the intervention group who possessed a risk version of the ACE gene, and were advised to limit their sodium intake, significantly reduced their sodium intake (mg/day) compared to the control group (-287.3 ± 114.1 vs. 129.8 ± 118.2, p = 0.008). Those who had the non-risk version of ACE did not significantly change their sodium intake compared to the control group (12-months: -244.2 ± 150.2, p = 0.11). Among those with the risk version of the ACE gene, the proportion who met the targeted recommendation of 1500 mg/day increased from 19% at baseline to 34% after 12 months (p = 0.06).

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that disclosing genetic information for personalized nutrition results in greater changes in intake for some dietary components compared to general population-based dietary advice.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01353014.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Disclosure*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Nutrigenomics / methods*
  • Precision Medicine / methods*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01353014