Lean Cuisine Debuts Diet Plan That Requires A DNA Sample

As scientific understanding of nutrition and health evolves, researchers are increasingly focusing on the role our genes play in how our bodies react to food and exercise. Diet and nutrition companies are debuting DNA-based diet kits that offer customized nutrition advice based on your profile. Now, one of the biggest brands in frozen foods is in on it: Lean Cuisine.

Its new program, Nutria, calls itself a "personalized nutrition coach powered by DNA." It requires customers to submit a saliva sample via a Caligenix-brand DNA kit sent through the mail, which provides the company information on the 45 genetic markers the nutritional DNA test assesses. Then, Nutria sends users an eight-week plan that includes recipes, dining-out, and prepared meal choices. According to the Nutria FAQs, only the user and Nutria coaches will have access to genetic information, which is encrypted during transmission via the plan's app. The program is actually affordable at $79 for eight weeks, and because it's a "limited trial program," it's already reached early sign-up capacity. If you're interested, you can enter your email address to be notified if and when more spots become available.

This seems like a large leap for Lean Cuisine: To go from creating microwavable ravioli to asking for customers' DNA samples is a serious evolution. But it's one that consumers are clearly eager for. Part of the motivation is the modern revelation that cookie-cutter diets and one-size-fits-all nutrition advice doesn't work for everyone. One person might see the benefits of a high-protein paleo diet while another needs to focus instead on healthy fats. And at just $79, the Lean Cuisine plan is way more budget-friendly than a personal nutrition coach. All you have to do is surrender your personal biological information to a third party! Worth it? Again, that's an individual choice.

On a final note, unrelated to DNA: It cannot go unstated that Nutria is also the name of an invasive swamp rodent.