Here’s a funny story.
A team of Stanford University researchers is recruiting 223 people for a fascinating year-long project. Combining physical activity and eating plan according to a DNA diet that would allow each participant to lose weight in a personalized way.
The results were staggering. And they were baffling, according to the researchers themselves, who admitted that they used the idea of a DNA diet only to evaluate the possibility of a placebo effect. In practice, the DNA diet was not true .
The researchers limited themselves to dividing the participants into two groups and giving them this information.
One group was studied for the CREB1 gene linked to a greater aerobic exercise capacity, the other group was studied for the FTO gene, linked to a greater sense of hunger.
At this point the scientists started “cheating”. Some in the first group were told they had this particularly strong gene, even though it wasn’t true. To others who were less sensitive to the action of this gene.
Even if it wasn’t true.
The former practiced a lot more, saying they felt carried away. The latter exercised more listlessly and gave up earlier saying they couldn’t do it.
Same thing for the FTO group. Some were pretended that they were more susceptible to the action of this gene, so they felt hungry more than others. Others have been told, again by pretense, that they are more resistant to this gene, and therefore have less sense of hunger.
Result? Although both subgroups consumed a 480-calorie smoothie before exercise, those who believed they were more sensitive to the FTO gene complained that they were still hungry.
Those who thought they were more resistant said they still felt full.
The researchers’ goal was obviously not to mock volunteers about the effectiveness of a DNA diet.
But to evaluate how certain information has a very strong placebo effect on people, which affects their eating behavior and their lifestyle, although it is unfounded from a scientific point of view.
In addition, they explain, today there is a lot of talk about the DNA diet, and there are companies that offer tests to people in order to allow them to customize their diet and lifestyle. But, the researchers say, these DNA diet tests are still unsupported by scientific evidence .
And the study that revealed the heavy weight of the placebo effect also explains that those who are enthusiastic about these genetics-based diets are not because they work, but because they are the first to believe in them