This morning, consumer genomic giant 23andMe revealed that it is teaming up with Lark Health, an AI platform that helps users manage chronic conditions, on a new initiative that will integrate a user’s 23andMe genetic information into Lark’s Wellness Program and Diabetes Prevention Program. The idea is that Lark’s AI weight loss and wellness coach will be able to access a user’s genetic information in order to personalize strategies for losing weight.
After researching genetic variants associated with weight, 23andMe researchers found specific lifestyle factors that are associated with weight differences in people of a similar genetic makeup, the companies said in a statement.
“Access to your genetic information is really just the beginning — using that information to prevent serious health consequences is the next critical step,” Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder, 23andMe, said in a statement. “Our collaboration with Lark enables 23andMe customers to use their genetic information in a clinically validated program to help them make lifestyle changes to improve their health.”
Why it matters
Around 39.8 percent or 93.3 million US adults are impacted by obesity, according to the CDC. This can lead to several heath conditions including Type 2 diabetes. For conditions like diabetes—which impacts around 30 million people in the US—diet can be an important health factor. This is one of the target demographics that the two companies are angling to reach with this new initiative.
What’s the trend
23andMe has been interested in the weight loss space for some time. In January of 2018 the company announced that it was launching a large online study on the relationship between genetics and weight loss behaviors. The company drew on volunteer subjects from its existing customers. It planned on investigating three different weight loss straggles in the study.
On the record
“We’re thrilled 23andMe chose Lark for this innovative collaboration that has the potential to impact weight loss counseling and diabetes prevention,” Lark Health CEO and co-founder Julia Hu, said in a statement. “Together, we have launched a new type of personalized and scalable counseling platform for chronic condition management based on genetics, and we hope to help millions live healthier lives more easily.”