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Beautiful Question Project. Kate Paulhardt April 27, 2013. Is our health status pre-determined at birth or do we influence it throughout our lives?.

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Beautiful Question Project

Kate Paulhardt

April 27, 2013

Is our health status pre-determined at birth or do we influence it throughout our lives?

Hint:There will be audio attached throughout this presentation. Double click on the microphone to hear audio. If you can not hear the audio, I have attached the links separately in my sakai post.

Why I chose my question…

Audio Clip #1

Let’s look at the question from two different angles…

  • Scientific Rationale

  • Resources:

    • Article

    • Video Link

  • Personal Response and Lifestyle Choices

  • Resources:

    • Personal Interview

    • 4 interviews




  • Let’s start by learning the basics of Genetics!

Scientific research has proven that DNA plays a role in an individual's health status. Genes are passed down through generations and influence certain disorders or traits.

“Why your DNA isn’t your Destiny”

  • The article discuses why DNA is not the only determinant when looking at an individual’s health care status.

  • The environment affects how genes are expressed

  • An example of this is obesity. A child could have the gene for obesity, but lifestyle choices will affect how it is expressed. If the individual chooses to consume a large amount of junk food, then the gene will be more strongly expressed. If the individual chooses to consume more nutritious foods, then the gene will be expressed in a weaker or nonexistent manor.

  • Lifestyle choices determine if the individual’s gene is expressed in a positive manor or a negative manor.

“Why your DNA isn’t your Destiny”

  • “It is through epigenetic marks that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that is passed from one generation to the next (Cloud, 2010)”.

  • “Epigenetics isn't evolution. It doesn't change DNA. Epigenetic changes represent a biological response to an environmental stressor. That response can be inherited through many generations via epigenetic marks, but if you remove the environmental pressure, the epigenetic marks will eventually fade (Cloud, 2010)”.

“Why your DNA isn’t your Destiny”


  • Click the link above to see the full article

Can science answer the “Beautiful Question”?

  • If DNA is not the only determinant of an individual’s health status, then health status can not be determined at birth. There are other factors that influence the body and their genetic expression.

  • After looking at the article, you could say there is no answer to the “Beautiful Question”. An individual’s DNA is determined at birth, but is also influenced by lifestyle choices and modifications.

Can lifestyle modifications impact genetic expression?

  • Lifestyle modifications are proven to effect an individual’s health status (Ritter, Vetter & Sarwer, 2012).

  • Modifications such as exercising and eating right can influence the genetic expression.

  • Individual’s with the obesity genome are more prone to become overweight, but lifestyle choices determine how the genome is expressed.


Now let’s look at some personal responses and experiences!

Interview Questions

  • Listed below are the questions that will be asked throughout the interview:

  • Is our health status pre-determined at birth or do we influence it throughout our lives?

  • How aware of your family medical history are you?

  • If you are/are not aware, why?

  • Do they think your grandparents health has an impact on your health today and over next ten years?

  • If you knew this info, would it impact your choices today?

Predicted Outcomes

Audio Clip #2

My Interview

Audio Clip #3

Alexis’s Interview

Audio Clip #4

Zach’s Interview

Audio Clip #5

Shannon’s Interview

Audio Clip #6

Danielle’s Interview

Audio Clip #7

Analyzing the Interviews

Audio Clip #8

Personal Reflection on my “Beautiful Question”

A little bit about me…

  • My father has Type One Diabetes

  • Does this mean I will be diagnosed with Diabetes?

  • Do genes determine my prognosis or do other factors contribute?

My Opinion

Audio Clip #9

My Opinion

Different lifestyle choices are influential factors when determining an individual’s health status.

One could say that they are overweight, because their parents are. The truth is that their parents are a genetic influence, but the individuals diet habits and exercise are also key influential factors.

Knowledge of one’s family history does not always influence daily lifestyle modifications.

At a young age, people do not consider their grandparent’s health to be relevant. Because of the age difference, young adults see their grandparents problems as “being old”.

Did I find an answer that satisfies me?

  • Overall, I would say I am satisfied with my conclusion that I have come to after working on the project. I used multiple different resources to define the question and support my answer.

  • There is no right or wrong answer to the question, but I have formed my personal opinion and response based on my research and interviews.


In the future, I would like to continue to research this topic through interviews and scientific research. As technology progresses, our knowledge of genes and their effect on the body will grow. I would also like to expand my interview population to different cultures around the world. This leads me to my next question for another day, “How does culture impact an individual’s health care status?”


Brophy, S. (2013, April 15). Interview by K.L. Paulhardt []. Beautiful question.

Chauvette, A. (2013, April 15). Interview by K.L. Paulhardt []. Beautiful question.

Cloud, J. (2010, January 06). Why your dna isn't your destiny. TIME, Retrieved from,9171,1952313,00.html

Galvin, K. M., & Liu, E. (n.d.). Dna of a family: Testing social bonds and genetic ties. (2013). American Journal of Bioethics, 13(3), Retrieved from


Gene Screen, B. (Producer) (2011). 18 things you should know about genetics [Web]. Retrieved from

Paulhardt, K. L. (Performer) (2013, April 19). Beautiful question. Personal Interview & Opinion. [Audio podcast].

Proulx, D. (2013, April 15). Interview by K.L. Paulhardt []. Beautiful question.

Ritter, S., Vetter, M. L., & Sarwer, D. B. (n.d.). Lifestyle modifications and surgical options in the treatment of patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. (2012). Postgraduate Medicine, 124(4), 168-180. Retrieved from

Smith, Z. (2013, April 15). Interview by K.L. Paulhardt []. Beautiful question.

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