Information Provided to Consumers about Direct-to-Consumer Nutrigenetic Testing

Public Health Genomics. 2019;22(5-6):162-173. doi: 10.1159/000503977. Epub 2019 Nov 28.


Background: Nutrigenetic tests are often considered to be less serious compared to other health-related genetic tests, although they share similar ethical concerns. Nutrigenetic tests are mainly available through direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC GT) and increasing in popularity.

Objective: To analyze the contents of nutrigenetic DTC GT websites with respect to the adequacy of the information provided to support a well-informed decision of purchasing the tests.

Methods: The websites of DTC GT companies selling nutrigenetic tests that could be ordered online without involving any healthcare professional, available in English, marketing tests in Europe, the USA, Australia, or Canada, and accessible from Finland were included in the study (n = 38). Quantitative and qualitative content analyses of the websites were carried out with the help of a codebook.

Results: Of the 38 websites, 8 included a clearly identifiable and easy-to-find information section about genetics. The quality and contents of these sections were often insufficient and/or misleading. Fourteen websites had specific sections discussing the risks related to GT, and on 13 signed informed consent was requested for GT. Furthermore, only 2 of the companies offered any kind of pretest consultation and 13 offered mostly separately charged posttest consultation. The complex structure of the websites made it difficult to find all key information, with many important aspects buried in legal documents, which were challenging to comprehend even for a professional.

Conclusion: The structure of the websites and the amount and quality of the content therein do not support a well-informed decision.

Keywords: Autonomy; Commercial companies; Direct-to-consumer nutrigenetic testing; Ethical issues; Genetic testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Consumer Health Information / standards*
  • Decision Making
  • Direct-To-Consumer Screening and Testing* / ethics
  • Europe
  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / standards
  • Internet*
  • Marketing / ethics
  • Nutrigenomics*
  • United States