Health Testing Reviews for Toolbox Genomics

At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
Customer Service:
Clarity of Results:
References Cited:
Value for Money:

Screenshots

Summary

I really enjoyed the Health Action Report from Toolbox Genomics. It not only provided useful tips but several helpful features that made them easy to implement, such as the grocery list and recipe suggestions. I would have liked to have been able to access the further information about my results a little more directly, and it was a shame that none of the examples of published work from the website were present in the report.

That said, I appreciated the focus on the advice and practical implications of the DNA report. Rather than just providing results that I was left to interpret and act on alone, I felt that the company had considered the customer’s experience and supported me at every point in the process. Overall, this report was a good value service that allowed me to get extra information, as well as easily actionable advice, about my health and lifestyle using my 23andMe results, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.

Full Review

The Health Action Report is the first testing tool offered by Toolbox Genomics, a company which entered the health DNA testing market only last year. Headed up by co-founders Erika Gray and Elvina Hewitt, the company currently offers 23andMe customers the opportunity to have their genetic data reanalysed to provide information about their health.

However, they have plans to expand their products as the company grows, to offer their own kits and analysis to customers that haven’t already got their genetic data, and to offer a professional version of the test for use by healthcare professionals. We were excited to try out the Health Action Report and were particularly interested to see how well the current test offered by Toolbox Genomics would compare to some of the more well established tests.

Product Expectations

The Toolbox Genomics website was really nicely laid out, which made it easy to find out about the report. I read that it was designed using the most up-to-date science, to provide me with lifestyle and food recommendations based on my DNA. There was an emphasis on the fact that these would be practical and actionable, which I was happy about, as although I was interested in finding out about the scientific side of the results, my ultimate reason for using the service was to improve my lifestyle. I think this focus showed that the company had really thought about what their customers wanted from the report.

There were also a few sample pages of the report, which were frustratingly a bit too small to read, but provided a good idea of what to expect in my results. Below this there was a ‘how it works’ section and a ‘What’s included’. I found out that as well as the report, the price of the service included a Toolbox Genomics subscription that would last for the rest of the year. This provided, amongst other features, recipes, health and genomic related articles and supplement tips, so it was a real bonus that it was included in the price of the service.

As well as information about what came with the report, there was a section that highlighted the efforts that Toolbox Genomics takes to protect customers’ privacy. I was pleased to read that they wouldn’t permanently store my genetic data and wouldn’t share it for commercial purposes or to insurers and employers. I was also impressed to see that they highlighted the Genetic Information Discrimination Act (GINA), which isn’t something people are necessarily aware of. Unfortunately, I found out that GINA is a piece of US legislation, which doesn’t really have a UK counterpart, but this made me all the more glad that the company had made their policies protective and clear.

There was also a link to the full privacy policy, which confirmed what was stated. It was also explained that Toolbox Genomics wouldn’t knowingly test samples taken from those under the age of 18. The terms and conditions were similar, though did include a clause that meant if the company uses my data for research that leads to any discoveries or the development of any products, I won’t not be able to claim any compensation for my contribution.

Ordering Experience

Before ordering the Health Action Report, I had to indicate that I understood and accepted a list of conditions. This seemed odd, as these terms were in addition to those set out in the terms and conditions and privacy policy that I also had to agree to. However, they all seemed quite sensible so I clicked to indicate that I understood and accepted them.

I paid via credit card and was then able to connect to my 23andMe account to transfer a copy of my raw genetic data. Whilst this was probably the easiest method, I would have liked to have had the option to upload the file from my computer, as, for me, this was easier to access than my 23andMe login details, which I hadn’t used for a while.

The Results

My report was instantly available once I’d transferred my genetic data, online and in a printable form and accessible at any time via the account I had made when ordering the report. The first page I was shown was ‘Here's what's new for you’ which seemed to be blog posts and guides from the website. The rest of the report was broken up into the following sections: ‘Summary’, ‘Diet’, ‘Exercise’, ‘Further Testing’, ‘Supplements’ and ‘All Results’.

Results Section: Summary

I was expecting the ‘Summary’ section to provide a bit of a background about the test and maybe an introduction to the results, but was pleased to find it was even more useful. A part of this section is shown below.

A part of the Summary section of my report.

A part of the Summary section of my report.

The section was used to highlight my most significant results, with the option to view non-detected conditions, and it was suggested that I chose just one condition to focus on at first, to maximise my success at improving my health and lifestyle. It acknowledged that going through a report might be a bit overwhelming, which I definitely agreed with. I really appreciated that Toolbox Genomics had not only noted this, but had responded to it by providing this section. It seemed like they had really thought from a customer’s point of view when designing the report, finding the best format in which to provide an abundance of information in a manageable way.

The list of highlighted results helped me to choose the one condition to act on first, but also to get an idea of which results to focus on before going on to read any of them in more detail. Something that was even more useful was the list beneath of the top three tips provided for each section (Diet, Exercise, Further Testing, Supplements). These lists added to how easy the report was to interpret and implement.

In addition to providing such a comprehensive overview of the report, this section served as a helpful contents page. Each of the highlighted conditions was hyperlinked to the result that went into more detail about it, making it really easy to check the ones I was most interested in, rather than having to go through all of the results to find it.

Results Section: Diet

Unusually, rather than results, the report was sorted into different categories of tips. I decided to look at the diet ones first, as this was the category that contained the most, 30 in total. You can see an example of one of my diet tips below.

One of my diet tips.

One of my diet tips.

These tips were all formatted in the same way and provided information about specific foods, groups of foods, as well as foods high in certain vitamins and minerals. Each varied in the content but all of the tips were very specific and easy to implement, including suggested foods, measurements, and even sometimes how many times per week I should eat them. Each result also included information about the advice, and the benefits of the foods/vitamins suggested. Some results included a fun ‘Did You Know?’ fact or ‘Pro Tip’, which provided interesting information about the advice.

Each of the tips also included links to any results that were associated with them. Although this seemed an unusual way around to show the information, I think this again exemplified that rather than just providing abstract results that are difficult to understand or utilise, Toolbox were aiming to provide practical, easily implementable advice, based on my DNA.

These results were found on the ‘All Results’ page, which was a long list of results from all of the categories, so it was useful to have a link that took me straight to the one I was looking for.

This section of the report also gave a list of suitable groceries under the subheading at the top ‘View all Groceries’, which was my favourite feature of the report. The list could be filtered by up to three conditions I wanted to focus on. I had hoped that some of the diet tips to be hyperlinked or listed alongside the groceries, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. You can see an example below, based on the following three conditions: Cholesterol and Triglycerides, Coronary Artery Disease and Hypertension.

A section of one of the grocery lists, customised according to my chosen conditions.

A section of one of the grocery lists, customised according to my chosen conditions.

As well as the ‘Fresh Produce’ and ‘Grocery’ categories shown in the screenshot, there were sections that listed Dairy, Nuts and Seeds, Meats and Seafoods, Spices, and Supplements. The addition of this feature made it even easier to implement the advice given in the main report, especially as it included normal grocery items that I could easily pick up at any local supermarket.

Another feature I was really impressed by in the Diet section was the recipe suggestion given on various ingredients. When I clicked on ‘More Recipes’ next to the first suggested recipe, I was taken to a page that listed an array of tasty looking recipes that didn't seem too difficult to follow, with helpful ‘Chef's Tips’. I was suggested seven recipes, each one labelled with the conditions they were suggested for, and similarly to the grocery list, the filter feature allowed me to choose them based on up to three conditions I wanted to target.

Results Section: Exercise

I looked at the Exercise section next. There were only seven tips in this section, and unfortunately not all of these were as detailed than the diet ones, but still interesting and helpful. I was recommended to undertake yoga, dancing, meditation, hill walks, indoor rather than outdoor exercise during periods of extra high pollution and a combination of endurance and strength activities.

One of the tips was slightly confusingly entitled ‘General Exercise’ and just advised me to exercise for at least two hours per week. I thought that as this was a bit vague compared to the other tips, it might have been better as part of the introduction to the section rather than a separate tip.

In contrast, I was impressed by how detailed the ‘Combined Training’ advice was, telling me to spend two days on endurance and three days on strength-type exercises. The accompanying ‘Did You Know?’ box also included suggested activities, which helped to clarify exactly what was meant by strength and endurance. This tip was based on my result, ‘Muscle Composition – Mixed Athletes’ (shown below).

My Muscle Composition – Mixed Athletes result.

My Muscle Composition – Mixed Athletes result.

At first, I was slightly disappointed with the description of my result, as although it explained that I had both ‘fast and slow twitch muscles’ I wasn’t sure what this meant, or how they had worked this out. However, I noticed later that clicking on the little question mark symbol next to the gene listed under ‘SNP’ in the table provided me with more information about the gene tested and its link to the result. I was also able to read a bit about what my result (CT) meant in genetic terms, by clicking on the question mark next to ‘Your Results’. In addition, the advice from the Exercise page was also included, beneath the result, which put it into better context. All together, this provided plenty of information, I just wished it had been easier to find!

Results Section: Further Testing

The next section was a bit different. It was dedicated to suggested further testing, which I had initially assumed meant DNA testing. Instead, it was testing that seemed to be designed to see whether the predispositions identified using my DNA were actually manifesting in the conditions predicted. These were less tips than guidelines about the typical levels I should have, so if I did get the tests suggested, I could compare to see if they were in the normal range. Whilst this was interesting, I’m not sure how much I will use this feature of the service.

Results Section: Supplements

The supplement tips were similar to the diet tips in being quite specific. There were 26 of these in total and they provided suggested doses and the number of times per week I should take them. There was also a feature, at the top of the page, that allowed me to select the tips by condition (shown below).

My supplement tips sorted by condition.

My supplement tips sorted by condition.

Although this was a feature of each of the sections, I found it particularly useful for this one. It meant that I could quickly and easily select supplements for the conditions I was most worried about (eg. Coronary Artery Disease), before maybe incorporating those that would help guard against the less serious ones at a later point. This linked in well with the idea, mentioned at the beginning of the report, of focusing on one condition at a time to slowly and sustainably improve my lifestyle.

Results Section: All Results

The final section gave a summary of the most relevant tips from each section for all 16 gene variations detected by the test. Seeing this condensed layout of the recommendations was a great way to recap the masses of information in the previous sections, and as they suggested, to start with small, manageable changes that make the process much less daunting.

Summary

I really enjoyed the Health Action Report from Toolbox Genomics. It not only provided useful tips but several helpful features that made them easy to implement, such as the grocery list and recipe suggestions. I would have liked to have been able to access the further information about my results a little more directly, and it was a shame that none of the examples of published work from the website were present in the report.

That said, I appreciated the focus on the advice and practical implications of the DNA report. Rather than just providing results that I was left to interpret and act on alone, I felt that the company had considered the customer’s experience and supported me at every point in the process. Overall, this report was a good value service that allowed me to get extra information, as well as easily actionable advice, about my health and lifestyle using my 23andMe results, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.

Please note that we were invited to take this test free of charge.

Click here to visit the Toolbox Genomics website to learn more about the types of DNA test they offer.

Index

  • Summary
  • Full Review
  • Product Expectations
  • Ordering Experience
  • The Results
  • Results Section: Summary
  • Results Section: Diet
  • Results Section: Exercise
  • Results Section: Further Testing
  • Results Section: Supplements
  • Results Section: All Results
  • Summary