Background: The impacts of direct-to-consumer personal genomic testing (PGT) on health behaviors such as diet and exercise are poorly understood. Our investigation aimed to evaluate diet and exercise changes following PGT and to determine if changes were associated with genetic test results obtained from PGT.
Methods: Customers of 23andMe and Pathway Genomics completed a web-based survey prior to receiving PGT results (baseline) and 6 months post-results. Fruit and vegetable intake (servings/day), and light, vigorous and strength exercise frequency (days/week) were assessed. Changes in diet and exercise were examined using paired t-tests and linear regressions. Additional analyses examined whether outcomes differed by baseline self-reported health (SRH) or content of PGT results.
Results: Longitudinal data were available for 1,002 participants. Significant increases were observed for vegetable intake (mean Δ = 0.11 (95% CI = 0.05, 0.17), p = 0.0003) and strength exercise (Δ = 0.14 (0.03, 0.25), p = 0.0153). When stratified by SRH, significant increases were observed for all outcomes among lower SRH participants: fruit intake, Δ = 0.11 (0.02, 0.21), p = 0.0148; vegetable intake, Δ = 0.16 (0.07, 0.25), p = 0.0005; light exercise, Δ = 0.25 (0.03, 0.47), p = 0.0263; vigorous exercise, Δ = 0.23 (0.06, 0.41), p = 0.0097; strength exercise, Δ = 0.19 (0.01, 0.37), p = 0.0369. A significant change among higher SRH participants was only observed for light exercise, and in the opposite direction: Δ = -0.2468 (-0.06, -0.44), p = 0.0111. Genetic results were not consistently associated with any diet or exercise changes.
Conclusions: The experience of PGT was associated with modest, mostly positive changes in diet and exercise. Associations were independent of genetic results from PGT.
Keywords: Diet; Direct-to-consumer; Exercise; Genetic testing; Health behavior.