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

P liked sweet more, but the reason for this relationship is not known. This difference could be due to taste receptor biology or it could be because those who are most bitter sensitive use more sugar to mask unpleasant tastes in food, and thus come to prefer it more. Whatever the explanation, this is an important puzzle to solve."

Unlike children, bitter receptor genotype did not influence sweet preference in adults. Instead, effects of race/ethnicity were the strongest determinants. Mennella comments, "What I find most interesting is that you do not see the relationship between bitter taste receptor genotype and sweet preference in adults. The forces of experience and culture appear to have overridden the genetic effect."

Some mothers and their children may live in different sensory worlds due to differences of taste sensitivity related to genes, age, or both. Such differences influenced interactions between mothers and children: mothers insensitive to bitter taste perceived bitter-sensitive children as being more emotional than bitter-insensitive children. "This knowledge may bring relief to parents who learn that their children reject foods that they themselves like because of inborn differences in taste ability, rather than rebelliousness or defiance of authority," explains Reed.

The research continues and extends Monell's long-term research program exploring development of taste and flavor preferences during childhood, a critical time for learning about food. Mennella comments, "Our previous studies focused on how early experience influences preferences for foods and flavors. Now, we have a tool to look at how experience and genetics interact in determining why we like the foods we do."

Monell researcher M. Yanina Pepino also contributed to the study.


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Source:Monell Chemical Senses Center


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