Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Research has shown that genes play a big part in how easily people gain weight. People can find out if they have genes which put them at higher risk for gaining weight by using genetic tests. These tests are available over the internet. However, it is currently not known whether receiving personal results from these tests is useful.
The aim of this study is to find out whether giving people their personal genetic result for risk of weight gain motivates them to try and keep a healthy weight. We will investigate this in young adults at the beginning of university, because weight gain is common in students.
Who can participate?
First year university students, aged between 18 and 25 years, enrolled at University College London, who agree to take part in a larger study will be invited to participate.
What does the study involve?
They will be randomly (i.e. by chance) split into two groups:
One group will receive their personal genetic test result for one gene (FTO) related to risk of weight gain alongside a leaflet with simple weight gain prevention advice.
The other group will receive only the leaflet containing simple weight gain prevention advice. Participants receiving only the leaflet will receive their genetic test result at the end of the study. The study will run over the course of the academic year. We will look at whether people who receive their test result and the leaflet are more motivated to prevent weight gain than people who just receive the leaflet.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Benefits of taking part include learning about personal genetic risk of weight gain (based on one gene), and receiving advice on how to keep a healthy weight.
There is little risk involved in participation, and we will be available to answer any questions or concerns. We will also conduct interviews to find out more about participants thoughts and feelings after receiving their genetic test result.
Where is the study run from?
The study will take place at University College London.
When is study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study started in September 2010 and will run till September 2013.
Who is funding the study?
Cancer Research UK
Who is the main contact?
Prof Jane Wardle
Adding genetic test feedback to advice on weight gain prevention for young adults : a randomized controlled trial
Participants receiving personal genetic test feedback for risk of weight gain in addition to generic weight gain prevention advice will be more motivated to prevent unhealthy weight gain than those receiving generic weight gain prevention advice alone.
University College London Ethics Committee, Sept 2010, ref: 2471/003
Open two-arm individually randomized controlled trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet
Prevention of weight gain
Feedback group: Providing personal genetic risk status of the fat mass and obesity (FTO) associated gene implicated in weight gain + a leaflet containing generic weight loss prevention advice.
No Feedback group: Only leaflet with generic weight gain prevention advice (feedback returned at end of year).
High risk of contamination between groups prevented us to include a 'Control' group which receives neither genetic feedback nor leaflet.
Primary outcome measure
Self-reported motivation to prevent weight gain immediately after receiving genetic test feedback, assessed with several statements relating to weight gain prevention (Likert scale)
Secondary outcome measures
1. Self-reported motivation at follow-up
2. Self-reported efforts to prevent weight gain at follow-up
3. Body fat and weight change from baseline to follow-up, assessed by weighing and bioelectrical impedance
4. Interactions between feedback condition and gene test status
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
All interested first year students between ages 18 and 25 from University College London, who are able to give consent
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Inability to consent
2. Not aged between 18 and 25
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Health Behaviour Research Centre
University College London (UK)
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) (UK) (C1418/A10843)
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Not provided at time of registration
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Basic results (scientific)
Meisel SF, Beeken RJ, van Jaarsveld CH, Wardle J, Genetic test feedback with weight control advice: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial., Trials, 2012, 13, 235, doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-13-235.