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Will Genomics Motivate Healthy Behaviours?

Credit: Marek/adobe

Credit: Marek/adobe

By Amelia Smit & Anne Cust

Will communicating the genetic risks of disease necessarily motivate people to make healthier behaviour choices?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Healthy lifestyle behaviours, such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, doing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, using sunscreen, refraining from smoking and heavy drinking, and adhering to screening programs, are widely acknowledged as ways to prevent and reduce the risk of common health conditions and diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Despite this awareness, the number of people suffering from preventable diseases continues to increase in populations across the world.

Innovative strategies are needed to motivate healthy behaviours in the general population. Can genomics help fill this gap?

Over the past 10 years, there has been an explosion of knowledge about genomic risk factors for common diseases. This knowledge presents a promising opportunity to see whether or not genomic risk information could be used to improve population health through the prevention and early detection of diseases.

What Is Genomic Risk Information?

Genomic risk information is disease risk information based on genomics, taking into account common variation in several or many genes to estimate a person’s chances of developing certain health conditions and diseases. Although each variant is itself usually associated with only a small increase in risk, together they can have a large influence on risk and on the population’s disease burden...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.