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Perception and preference may have genetic link to obesity
Date:3/5/2012

ribe dairy products that varied in fat content such as ice cream, sour cream, whole milk and skim milk. Super-tasters used a rich and varied vocabulary to describe these foods, whereas non-tasters used very few, simple words.

However, said Tepper, "even though the non-tasters had difficulty describing the foods, they knew what they liked, and they preferred the higher-fat products."

Until recently, it was unclear why a genetic trait that controls the ability to taste bitterness plays a role in fat perception. Why should these two behaviors be related at all?

According to Tepper, "the key linking these two factors together is differences in tongue anatomy." Super-tasters have more taste buds and more nerve fibers that carry signals to the brain about oral texture; non-tasters have fewer taste buds and nerve fibers. Since the perception of fat is due mostly to its textureflavor being the second componentdifferences in the ability to sense the texture of fats seem to distinguish non-tasters from super-tasters.

Designer Fats and Personalized Diets

The ability to taste fatty acids provides important signals about the type of fat being consumed and the implications of this could be far reaching, suggested Tepper. "We could use this information to design more healthful fats that also give foods the high sensory appeal that consumers want."

"Using these two genetic markers (CD36 and PROP), we could identify those who are insensitive to oral fat and who may be more susceptible to high-fat diets and obesity," said Tepper. "We could devise more personalized diet strategies to address this specific dietary issue," she added.

"CD36 is only the beginning," said Tepper. "There is at least one additional fatty acid receptor that is known to exist in humans, and probably others that have yet to be identified."


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Contact: Paula Quintin
quintin@aesop.rutgers.edu
848-932-4204
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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