If you could mine your own DNA for lifestyle advice, would you do it? What if I told you it would cost between $215 and $320, plus another $150 if you want to know (approximately) how long you’ll live?
In what sounds not a little like a heavy-handed Black Mirror plot, a company called Titanovo is offering a product called DNA Lifestyle Coach, which promises to assess your DNA (which you provide, via cotton swab) and deliver a series of actionable lifestyle recommendations particularly suited to your genetic makeup. Over at The Atlantic, writer Erika Hayasaki shares some of the results from her own report:
DNA Lifestyle Coach informs me: “Your genetics infer that you will struggle to lose weight more than most, so your caloric cut should be strict.” When dieting, it says, I should aim to take in 600 fewer calories a day.
At first glance, this information does not feel more enlightening than any other diet or fitness plan I have ever tried in my life. Plug my weight, height, BMI numbers and heart rate averages into apps like MyFitnessPal or Fitbit and each one will spit out similar estimates. Tell me something I don’t know.
Hayasaki’s report also informed her that she has a marathon runner’s endurance, would benefit from up to three cups of coffee per day, and isn’t at risk for “negative emotions.” If this information sounds both strangely specific and unusably broad to you, you’re not alone. Stuart K. Kim, developmental biology and genetics professor emeritus at Stanford University, told Hayasaki he was skeptical of the service’s ability to provide accurate, helpful information. DNA Lifestyle Coach (and other products like it) do not claim to offer medical solutions, but, like so much else in the health-and-wellness sphere, they do offer their interesting, but perhaps ultimately useless, personal trivia with a scientific glaze.
For her part, Hayasaki came away from her lengthy DNA report feeling about as uninformed as to the future of her health as she was before reading it. Services like DNA Lifestyle Coach might be able to provide you with a few more clues as to what might happen to your body, but only one thing remains certain whether you shell out hundreds of dollars for them or not: Someday, you, too, will die.