Monday, April 10, 2006

Profiles In Vitamins

A supplement-maker targets specific "physiological and metabolic differences" in races and ethnicities.

The GenSpec brand of dietary supplements, proclaimed to be the "first genetically specific product line," aims distinct products at blacks, whites and Hispanics, and at men and women within each group.


Unique "physiological and metabolic differences" can make certain groups more likely to develop some diseases, said Joseph Lander, president and founder of GenSpec. The small company, which also sells race-targeted weight-loss pills, bases its products on research into key racial health distinctions, Lander said. The company plans to start selling an Asian multivitamin in the next month.

While the approach may demonstrate clever marketing, some experts said, there is no gold-standard science showing that members of these groups are healthier if they take targeted nutrients in pills.

A quibble with how this article is written: For some reason, terms related to "race" and "ethnicity" seem to be used interchangeably. Then again, the term "Hispanic" used to be derided for its nonspecificity because it subsumed separate identities, such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican and so forth, into a blurred mass.

In any case, what do you think about the idea of GenSpec's new product line: "marketing gimmick" or science-based sensitivity toward "real biological differences"?