Ad for DNA sequencing-based exercise advice banned

Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Affairs Correspondent
·2-min read

An ad for wellness firm DNAfit has been banned for misleadingly implying it could provide effective personalised exercise and nutrition advice based on DNA sequencing.

The paid-for ad on Instagram, seen in September 2019, featured an animated double helix and captions that stated: “We’re DNA. We know all about your body. Fast twitch muscle fibres give you power. Slow give you endurance. And that’s not all we can tell you.”

A caption under the animation stated “Unlock the secret to your ideal diet, vitamin need and exercise response”.

A complainant, who believed DNA testing could not be used to determine an individual’s diet, vitamin and exercise needs, challenged whether the ad was misleading.

The ad appeared on Instagram
The ad appeared on Instagram (Nick Ansell/PA)

DNAfit said the test involved consumers collecting a DNA sample using a swab provided as part of the DNAfit kit. The swab was then analysed in a lab to allow the firm to produce a report detailing consumers’ specific nutritional and fitness needs and advising lifestyle changes.

It provided 31 peer-reviewed papers to back its claim but said the ad was no longer appearing.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it welcomed DNAfit’s assurance that the ad was no longer appearing.

However, it considered that the body of evidence provided by DNAfit overall was not sufficient to substantiate the ad’s claim that the kit could “unlock the secret to your ideal diet, vitamin need and exercise response” as consumers were likely to understand it.

The ASA concluded that the ad was misleading.

It said: “We told DNAfit that their future marketing communications must not state or imply they could provide consumers with effective personalised exercise and nutrition information or advice based on sequencing of their DNA that would result in improved health and fitness outcomes unless they held documentary evidence to that effect.”