DNA testing service 23andMe has added a host of new features to its service, and is promoting its at-home kits this week in commercials airing during the World Cup.
The company’s new Health + Ancestry package offers more than just a look at your genetic heritage, but also reveals what diseases you might be susceptible to and what preferences you are inclined to possess. You can find out if some of your habits and traits are part of your DNA, such as your “wake” time, the thickness of your hair, your preference or distaste for cilantro, whether you get angry when you’re hungry, and your sensitivity to sound.
23andMe is also spending money on its marketing, including a campaign called “Root for Your Roots,” which includes commercials airing during the World Cup. The inspiration behind the campaign began because America would not be competing in the 2018 matches, leaving fans wondering what teams they could support instead. 23andMe offered its DNA testing kits to help you decide, based on your own genetic heritage.
While some fans considered it clever, 23andMe has also gotten criticized on social media, with some critics claiming the campaign inspires racism. They point to the fact that some white supremacist groups encourage their followers to get tested to claim their European “purity.”
23andMe however is still going strong, and along with its campaign is offering discounts to customers.
According to an article in Women’s Health, your DNA can tell you a lot of information about your traits and habits – like whether or not sleeping in is part of who you are, or just a preference you’ve developed; or whether your dislike of cilantro is actually part of your DNA makeup and not just a taste preference.
It’s not an exact science, some might argue, since the results are based solely on comparisons with DNA from other 23andMe users, only a portion of the population as a whole. But to highlight the new features of its testing kits, 23andMe conducted a “Genome-Wide Association Study” using data from thousands of research participants who answered relevant questions, such as “do you like the taste of fresh cilantro?” according to Women’s Health. Scientists then compared DNA variants and tested for “statistical links between specific DNA variants and specific survey answers” to come up with their results.
23andMe is also known for providing information on whether or not you are a genetic carrier of certain conditions or diseases, and whether you should give up certain habits if they contribute to say, heart conditions or obesity.
23andMe DNA testing kits run about $199 when not on sale.