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The future of dieting lies in your DNA

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

New study says your DNA holds the key to true weight loss

Paleo. Low-carb. Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers.

There are a million and one diets out there that will help you lose weight — some better than others. But researchers behind a new study say that the diet of the future is "precision dieting" that uses the information in your DNA to determine the right workouts and nutrition to get the body you want.

More: How changing my mindset helped me lose weight

"I think within five years, we’ll see people start to use a combination of genetic, behavioral and other sophisticated data to develop individualized weight management plans," said lead author Dr. Molly Bray, a geneticist and professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, in the study published in the journal Obesity.

"We are pretty good at helping people lose weight in the short term. But the stats on long-term weight loss are pretty dismal. We still don’t understand the process of weight gain very well, either from a behavioral or a biological standpoint," said Dr. Bray, according to the Daily Mail.

More: How your body shape could be making you binge eat

Here's how it'll work: You submit a saliva sample and then the researchers will use automated sensors to collect information about your environment and habits. A computer program would then be used to evaluate the information and then spit out recommendations tailored to your situation that will help you get to your target weight.

And no, the test won't just tell you if you have the so-called obesity gene or the genetic trait that seems to cause people to store fat rather than burn it.

But there are already companies like DNAFit that offer diet and exercise recommendations based on DNA, so why do the researchers say we are still "five years away" from the technology? Simple: It's not just a matter of studying your DNA. While genetics play a large part in how we hold fat, the environment and habits come into play, making it necessary for the tests to take that into consideration.

More: Meals at restaurant chains with calorie counts you really shouldn't ignore

"There are going to be several genes involved with obesity, and they’re going to interact with each other in complicated ways," said Dr. Bray. "And that’s certainly true of weight loss and maintenance too."

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