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A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds

Delish logo Delish 12/7/2017 Sarah Weinberg

a couple of people posing for the camera: A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds © Courtesy of Joanne Laird A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds Joanne, you are likely to weigh more on a diet high in saturated fat.

By spitting into a tube, Joanne Laird got the information she'd been on a decades-long quest to find: That by simply cutting saturated fat from her meals, she'd finally be able to shed pounds - and keep them off. The lightbulb moment, as Laird calls it, happened seven months ago, after she got her results back from a 23andMe DNA testing kit. The 75-year-old is now down 55 pounds.

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"I've been on every diet known to man, and my husband likes to joke that I have every weight loss book that's ever been published," Laird laughs. Over the years, she's tried Optifast, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, and Weight Watchers at least eight or nine times. "I've been overweight my entire life, always fought it," she says. But the cycle would repeat itself: Laird would try a new program, lose some weight, then eventually give up and gain everything back.

She bought a 23andMe kit on a whim. The ancestry component didn't interest her; it was the health results that Laird was invested in. "I'm at an age that you think about your health a lot, and I really didn't know what to expect," she says. But she followed protocol - collect your saliva, seal it in a tube, and send it off to be tested - and the results were posted online weeks later.

a close up of a logo: A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds © Courtesy of 23andMe A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds Joanne, you are likely to weigh more on a diet high in saturated fat. "That one line stuck out like a sore thumb," Laird says. Fourteen years ago, she'd decided to become a vegetarian. "I thought, if I was overweight, I at least wanted to try to be healthy." But it turns out vegetarianism, the one diet she stuck to, was part of her downfall. "When you're vegetarian, cheese is a major food group. And what's in cheese but saturated fat," she says.

So Laird cut out butter, cheese, and eggs, adding in more veggies, tofu, and beans. "I haven't had pizza since the test, and that's a hard one," she laughs. Now Laird's daily lunch is a humungous salad, with no more than two tablespoons of dressing made with olive oil. "I'm getting to be kind of a quasi-vegan," she comments. She rejoined Weight Watchers - the program now takes saturated fat into consideration when determining points - and has been down pounds in nearly every weekly weigh-in.

Visit 23andMe's website, and you'll see Laird is far from the only success story. People have detected latent diseases and confirmed food intolerances. They've discovered predispositions for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. "Our service can tell customers about their health and ancestry based on certain markers in their DNA. You can learn how your DNA relates to everything from caffeine consumption to lactose intolerance," 23andMe's senior product scientist and manager Alisa Lehman says.

a screenshot of a cell phone: A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds © Courtesy of 23andMe A DNA Test Scared This Woman Into Losing 55 Pounds But weight loss is where the company is currently focusing its efforts. It launched a new 100,000-person study to see how DNA ties into it. "Hopefully we'll help discover how certain types of diets and exercise regimens work together with genetics and other lifestyle factors to impact weight loss," Lehman says.

Laird isn't involved in the study, but she's become somewhat of a walking, talking advertisement for 23andMe, telling everyone who compliments her new figure about the kit. "I hate to sound like a commercial, but I'm just so excited about it!" she says. "It absolutely changed my life."

Gallery: 100 fitness essentials for a healthier you (courtesy Redbook)

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