Document Detail

Nature and nurture in children's food preferences.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24477038     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Health professionals identify food provision in the home as a key influence on children's food preferences. In contrast, parents often perceive children's food preferences to be inborn. One explanation for this discrepancy could be that environmental and genetic influences vary by food type.
OBJECTIVE: We assessed genetic and environmental contributions to preferences for a wide variety of foods in a large pediatric twin sample.
DESIGN: Data were from Gemini, which is a cohort of UK twins born in 2007. Preferences for 114 foods were assessed by parent-completed questionnaire when children were aged 3 y (n = 2686). Foods tried by >75% of respondents were grouped into protein, vegetables, fruit, dairy, starches, and snacks. Quantitative model-fitting analyses were used to assess genetic and environmental influences for each food group.
RESULTS: The genetic influence was higher for vegetables (54%; 95% CI: 47%, 63%), fruit (53%; 95% CI: 45%, 61%), and protein (48%; 95% CI: 40%, 57%) but lower for starches (32%; 95% CI: 26%, 38%), snacks (29%; 95% CI: 24%, 35%), and dairy (27%; 95% CI: 20%, 35%). In contrast, shared-environment effects were higher for snacks (60%; 95% CI: 54%, 65%), starches (57%; 95% CI: 51%, 62%), and dairy (54%; 95% CI: 47%, 60%) and lower for vegetables (35%; 95% CI: 27%, 42%), fruit (35%; 95% CI: 26%, 43%), and protein (37%; 95% CI: 27%, 45%). Nonshared environment effects were small for all foods (11-19%).
CONCLUSIONS: Both genetic and environmental effects were significant for all food groups, but genetic effects dominated for more nutrient-dense foods (vegetables, fruit, and protein), whereas shared environmental effects dominated for snacks, dairy, and starches. These findings endorse the view of health professionals that the home environment is the main determinant of children's liking for energy-dense foods implicated in excessive weight gain but suggest that parents are also correct by identifying innate differences in liking, particularly for nutrient-dense foods that parents and health educators try to encourage.
Alison Fildes; Cornelia H M van Jaarsveld; Clare H Llewellyn; Abigail Fisher; Lucy Cooke; Jane Wardle
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Twin Study     Date:  2014-01-29
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American journal of clinical nutrition     Volume:  99     ISSN:  1938-3207     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. J. Clin. Nutr.     Publication Date:  2014 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2014-03-21     Completed Date:  2014-05-22     Revised Date:  2014-10-07    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376027     Medline TA:  Am J Clin Nutr     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  911-7     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM    
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MeSH Terms
Child Behavior*
Child Development*
Child, Preschool
Cohort Studies
Family Relations
Food Preferences*
Great Britain
Models, Genetic*
Models, Psychological*
Twins, Dizygotic
Twins, Monozygotic
Grant Support
14133//Cancer Research UK; C1418/A7974//Cancer Research UK

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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