HealthDay News — Results from genetic testing for weight gain-related genes may offer psychological benefits beyond their limited clinical utility, a study suggests. 

Using semi-structured interviews with 18 volunteers, Susanne F. Meisel and Jane Wardle, PhD, from University College London, and colleagues explored psychological and behavioral reactions to genetic testing feedback for a weight-related gene (FTO). The findings were published in the Journal of Genetic Counseling

Respondents perceived the gene test result as scientifically objective, which removed some of the emotion attached to the issue of weight control, the researchers found. Relief from self-blame was reported by those who were struggling with weight control.

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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 researchers wrote.


  1. Meisel SF, Wardle J. J Genet Couns. 2013; doi: 10.1007/s10897-013-9628-9.