Herbalife Korea publishes results of genetic big data analysis

Marian Chu  Published 2018.06.28  14:52  Updated 2018.06.29 17:33


Herbalife Korea announced Thursday the results of its big data analysis of Korean people’s genetics and lifestyle using the Gene Start service it launched in January.

Gene Start, developed jointly with Theragen Etex, provides one-on-one consultation and personalized healthcare guidelines based on genetic analysis. Consumers can buy the service kit at about 70,000 won ($63).

The results found that eating habits are just as important as genetic factors.

“Health status is determined by genetic elements and acquired eating habits. Lifestyle habits can help stop the expression of certain genetic mutation traits even if some people have them, raising the importance of persistent dietary habits that match individual genes,” Herbalife Korea said in a statement.

The analysis of Gene Start data on around 13,000 people showed that one out of three people need to take heed of stress-related overeating with 64 percent having a genetic mutation in blood pressure-related genes. Only 17 percent had “satisfactory” blood pressure genes, reflecting the importance of maintaining blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride.

Representative genes involved in obesity-related BMI include the FTO, MC4R, and BDNF genes. The data also found about 75 percent of examinees were on the “borderline” of having a genetic mutation of the BDNF gene. The BDNF gene is responsible for overeating that comes from stress or depression. Most examinees generally had a good FTO gene that converts carbohydrate to fat and MC4R gene that regulates energy intake balance through appetite suppression.

Herbalife Korea recommended that those with a genetic mutation in the BDNF gene should manage stress by exercising or walking, and consuming protein, conjugated linoleic acid and vitamin B. Reducing refined carbohydrates and eating protein can keep the feeling of fullness lasting longer and prevent binge eating, the company added.

Also, the analysis said Koreans should pay particular attention to the management of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, which can lead to chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.

Nearly nine out of 10 examinees were in “warning” or “borderline” territory regarding blood-pressure-related genes with only 9 percent in the “satisfactory” range. About 80 percent were also in the warning or borderline area for blood sugar-related genes and LDL cholesterol-related genes, known as “bad” cholesterol.

Although dietary habits and maintenance are known to be especially important for diabetes and high blood pressure, data also showed that around 64 percent of those with genetic mutations of blood sugar-related genes and 70 percent with those with mutations in blood pressure genes had bad lifestyle habits.

The analysis data were provided by Theragen Etex Bio Institute, a genomic science firm that analyses Gene Start kit.

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