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Children's taste sensitivity and food choices influenced by taste gene

er-sensitive allele (P) on the TAS2R38 receptor gene predicted sensitivity to the bitter taste of PROP in both children and mothers. While 70% of children and 50% of mothers with either AP or PP alleles detected bitterness in the weakest PROP solution, the same solution tasted bitter to only a few individuals with two bitter-insensitive alleles (AA).

Children and adults with two bitter-sensitive alleles (PP) were more sensitive to bitter taste than those with just one (AP).

Genetic influences on bitter taste sensitivity were in some cases modified by age. In individuals with the mixed AP genotype, children were more sensitive to bitter than adults, with 64% of children but only 43% of adults able to detect bitterness in the weakest PROP solution.

"This type of information will one day help to improve the diets of our children by allowing us to devise better strategies to enhance fruit and vegetable acceptance in children who are sensitive to bitter taste," comments Mennella. "It may be that childhood represents a time of heightened bitter taste sensitivity in some children, which lessens with age. Such a scenario would account for the increase of vegetable consumption that often occurs as children mature into adulthood. This is definitely an area that merits more research."

The bitter receptor genotype also predicted children's sweet preference, along with their preference for sweet-tasting beverages and foods. Children with a bitter-sensitive allele (PP or AP) preferred higher concentrations of sucrose solutions than did bitter-insensitive (AA) children, and were more likely to identify carbonated drinks as a preferred beverage. They also were less likely to name milk or water as one of their two favorite beverages. Favorite cereals and beverages of PP children had higher sugar content than corresponding selections of AA children.

According to study co-author, geneticist Danielle Reed, PhD, "The children most sensitive to PRO
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Source:Monell Chemical Senses Center


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