23andMe: Conflict of Interest and Crappy Advice

23andMe, the genetic testing company, sent me a new report saying I have a 64% chance of developing diabetes based on my genetics. Having at least three diabetic grandparents and hypoglycemia from the time I was a kid, I already figured I was a case of diabetes waiting to happen if I didn't take precautions.

If I followed 23andMe's crappy advice, I'd probably become one of those cases. GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the diabetes drug Avandia, owns a $300 million share of 23andMe. Some of 23andMe's advice for avoiding diabetes is good--avoid added sugars, refined flour and potatoes. Thanks to the work of journalists, bloggers, podcasters, and a few renegade doctors and researchers who attacked the low-fat orthodoxy, they have to throw that in now to avoid losing all credibility. But their advice on what to eat instead isn't very helpful for filling you up and keeping you from snacking on foods with flour and sugar:

Fruit can be very high in sugar; beans are mostly starch (like the potatoes they don't recommend); whole wheat bread has a glycemic index of 74, almost as high as boiled potatoes (78). That's higher than table sugar (sucrose), which is 65. Unless you're going to guzzle olive oil or knock back the nuts like a squirrel, there's not enough fat on the list to get you through the day. You'll have to get your energy from starchy beans and grains while your pants get tighter, your farts rattle the drapes, and your blood sugar goes full diabetic.

Their advice to not smoke, exercise and be at a healthy weight is fine--but everybody over five already knows that. Their advice doesn't mention how to get an inexpensive blood glucose testing kit and monitor your blood sugar. If people started doing that en masse, a lot of drug company employees would be out of a job.


It is a good idea to get an inexpensive blood glucose testing kit and monitor your blood sugar, and it's so quick and easy to do. You can then act/re-act to the result.

There is still a need for the word to be spread about the right choices in food and lifestyle, then people can make an informed choice.

All the best Jan
Lori Miller said…
I really wish someone would make an app telling people to test their blood sugar.
Val said…
One of my best friends from college has “moderated” herself into bilateral lower leg amputations & is currently on home hospice care thanks to complications from T2D...
While I am far from The Shining Example of Better Health through Low-Carb Living, I have tried to offer gentle suggestions over the years, but she has doggedly followed her doctor’s & (old school) dietician’s advice, yikes!
Lori Miller said…
I'm very sorry to hear that.

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