Future of public health practice

I wanted to use this discussion activity to highlight an interesting debate that I had recently. The names of the debaters are fictitious to protect identity. A debate occurred recently between two prominent health educators working at Nova Southeastern University.

Lets listen in:

Dr. Gutferyah: “If individuals are confronted with a personalized genetic risk profile based on such research, they will be more likely to adopt behaviors that minimize related health risks. A person who knows he or she is at an elevated risk for developing diabetes or coronary heart disease may choose to consume fewer processed sugars, drink less alcohol, or avoid high cholesterol foods dense in saturated fats. Genetic technologies will powerfully reinforce the  of health education messages.”

Dr. Batferyah: “Au contraire, my friend. In fact, the very opposite will occur. If that same person becomes aware that he or she has a relatively low risk of developing elevated cholesterol levels may see little point in heeding advice on lowering dietary fat intake. Genetic technologies are more likely to be the nemesis of public health education!”

After the debate, I stood up and asked this question and I will propose the same question for our discussion. “Should we understand personalized genetic profiling as something that is likely to be empowering or dis-empowering?”