NEW YORK: If you have suddenly become choosy about your food choices, don’t just blame bad food or environment. You may be genetically predisposed to become a picky eater.
According to a new study, genes play a major role in determining who becomes a picky eater.
The study that included a group of four-to seven-year-old twins, found that the pickiness can be attributed to a specific gene called TAS2R38 gene that governs taste.
Variants of this gene have been found to encode for taste receptors that determine how strongly someone tastes bitter flavours.
Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia also found that this same gene also predicts the strength of sweet tooth cravings among children, Smithsonian.com reported.
“Children who were more sensitive to bitterness preferred sugary foods and drinks. However, adults with the bitter receptor genes remained picky about bitter foods, but did not prefer more sweets,” the authors noted.
Human tastes are strongly influenced by environment and experience.
This process may even begin in the womb with exposure to different flavours via amniotic fluid and continues after birth via breast milk, previous research shows.
Repeated exposure to foods like broccoli at these stages makes children more likely to accept them later.
While picky eating has been around as long as children and vegetables, it has only recently been recognised as a clinical disorder.
The findings could lead to pills or even condiments that can temporarily “turn off” taste restrictions like bitter sensitivity, thus helping picky eaters enjoy greater food choices, the report suggested.