The work, led by Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, adds to the growing body of knowledge that genes play a significant role in children's eating behavior, including the tendency to avoid new foods.
"In some respects, food neophobia, or the aversion to trying new foods, is similar to child temperament or personality," said Faith, whose work appears today in the journal Obesity. "Some children are more genetically susceptible than others to avoid new foods. However, that doesn't mean that they can't change their behaviors and become a little less picky."
The study looked at 66 pairs of twins between ages 4 and 7 years old, and found that genes explain 72 percent of the variation among children in the tendency to avoid new foods, while the rest was influenced by environment. Previous research has shown a similar genetic influence for food neophobia in 8-to-11-year-olds (78 percent) and adults (69 percent), suggesting that the impact of genes on food neophobia is constant across the developmental spectrum.
Faith and his team also examined the relationship between food neophobia and body fat measures in both parent and child. Unexpectedly, the researchers found that if the parent was heavier, the child was heavier only if he or she avoided trying new foods.
"It's unexpected, but the finding certainly invites interesting questions about how food neophobia and temperament potentially shape longer-term eating and influence body weight," said Faith.
On the environmental side, the findings suggest that parents should consider each child's idiosyncrasies, even for siblings in the same household, when thinking about how to increase a child's acceptance of new foods. For example, parents can serve as role models and provide repeated exposure to new foods at home, or show their child how much they enjoy the food being avoided. They might also provide a choice of several new items from which a child could select.
"Each child may respond differently to each approach, and research needs to examine new interventions that take into account children's individuality," said Faith. "But what we do know through this and other emerging science is that this individuality includes genetic uniqueness."
Thania Benios | EurekAlert!
Unravelling the genetics of fungal fratricide
16.10.2018 | Uppsala University
Fungal weapon turns against the maker
16.10.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
New measurement method allows researchers to precisely follow the movement of individual molecules over long periods of time
The function of proteins – the molecular tools of the cell – is governed by the interplay of their structure and dynamics. Advances in electron microscopy have...
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
01.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Life Sciences
16.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.10.2018 | Event News