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Genetic susceptibility testing for chronic disease and intention for behavior change in healthy young adults

Genetic testing for chronic disease susceptibility may motivate young adults for preventive behavior change. This nationally representative survey gave 521 young adults hypothetical scenarios of receiving genetic susceptibility results for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke and asked their (1) interest in such testing, (2) anticipated likelihood of improving diet and physical activity with high- and low-risk test results, and (3) readiness to make behavior change. Responses were analyzed by presence of established disease-risk factors. Respondents with high phenotypic diabetes risk reported increased likelihood of improving their diet and physical activity in response to high-risk results compared with those with low diabetes risk (odds ratio (OR), 1.82 (1.03, 3.21) for diet and OR, 2.64 (1.24, 5.64) for physical activity). In contrast, poor baseline diet (OR, 0.51 (0.27, 0.99)) and poor physical activity (OR, 0.53 (0.29, 0.99)) were associated with decreased likelihood of improving diet. Knowledge of genetic susceptibility may motivate young adults with higher personal diabetes risk for improvement in diet and exercise, but poor baseline behaviors are associated with decreased intention to make these changes. To be effective, genetic risk testing in young adults may need to be coupled with other strategies to enable behavior change.

Authors: Vassy JL; Donelan K; Hivert MF; Green RC; Grant RW

J Community Genet. 2013 Apr;4(2):263-71. Epub 2013 Feb 24.

PubMed abstract

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