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Genet Med. 2008 Nov;10(11):784-96. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e31818c0441.

The on-line promotion and sale of nutrigenomic services.

Author information

  • 1Center for Genomics and Society, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7240, USA. rene@unc.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Nutrigenomic researchers hope to improve health through personalized nutrition, but many consider the sale of nutrigenomic services to be premature. Few studies have evaluated the promotion and sales practices of organizations hosting nutrigenomic websites.

METHODS:

Systematic search and analysis of websites promoting nutrigenomic services in October 2006.

RESULTS:

Of the 64 organizations hosting websites, 29 organizations offered (24 of 29) or promoted (5 of 29) at-home testing and 26 organizations sold services on-line (17 of 26) or provided a direct link to on-line sales (9 of 26). A lack of transparency made it difficult to identify unique tests; however, three organizations were linked to 56% of all test mentions. Most organizations were healthcare/wellness service providers (50%) or laboratories/biotech companies (27%). Few organizations provided on-line information about laboratory certifications (20%), nutrigenomic test or research limitations (13%), test validity or utility (11%), or genetic counseling (9%). Affiliation opportunities were offered by 15 organizations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Organizations did not provide adequate information about nutrigenomic services and at-home genetic testing. Affiliation opportunities and distribution agreements suggest the promotion and sale of nutrigenomic services will continue, increasing the importance of consumer and provider education. In absence of federal regulation, organizations promoting nutrigenomic services should equate websites to product labels and include information to facilitate informed decision-making.

PMID:
18941418
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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