23andMe, Inc., a known DNA-Testing company, is planning to offer new wellness options which might help its consumers with their weight-loss plans. However, a few experts from the field of genetics still can’t say for sure if the ‘science behind the products’ will be beneficial or not.
Recently, the Mountain View, a company based in California declared their partnership with an artificial-intelligence coaching service which functions by delivering unique advice about ways to prevent weight gain and diabetes through an app. The app, called ‘Lark Health,’ will need the customers to input genetic data that are weight-related, which it will obtain from 23andMe’s database.
Emily Drabant-Conley, the vice-president of business development at 23andMe, said that the idea was from their desire to help their customers to explore their genetics and do more using the information.
If they choose to continue their plans, the company will find themselves among a crowded marketplace in which companies who use DNA analysis to give their consumers custom-fit advice about wellness and family history. This kind of market has been a place of conflicting ideas and criticisms, as believers honor the idea of a new era of personalized-health, while critics advocate the lack of useful and beneficial information with the use of such tools. This process is called biohacking and although it is popular in wealthy areas, it has yet to hit the mainstream.
Scripps Research Institute geneticist Eric Topol explained that while the idea is satisfactory, there is still the fact that there is a lack of information whether the algorithms are indeed beneficial. This kind of information can be obtained through “proof of peer-reviewed publications with the prospective study”.
On their defense, 23andMe stated how they merely use their data to do a smarter service which is already known to be popular due to its uptake. In its diabetes-prevention and wellness program, AI coaches from Lark helps track people’s activities like eating, exercising, and sleeping to come up with advice that will assist in the achievement one’s health goals. For examples, consumers can ask their AI if eating a burger will be an excellent choice for dinner. In case their weight report generated by 23andMe suggests the limitation of red meat, the AI may tell the consumer to limit their burger consumption.
Lark’s AI coach has gained a reputation by being recognized by more than two million people, as well as the Center for Disease Control. Along with peer reviews implying that the AI coach is almost as active as a human coach.
With their partnership, Lark’s apps will be able to access data from eight different reports from 23andMe. This information will include an individual’s weight profile, taste preferences, and sleeping habits.