Picky Eating in Youngsters Might Be Largely Caused by Genes03/22/13
FRIDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- If your young children are
picky eaters, they may be able to blame it on their genes,
according to a new study.
The findings add to growing evidence that genes play an
important role in children's eating behaviors, including the
tendency to avoid new foods, said the researchers at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"In some respects, food neophobia, or the aversion to trying new foods, is similar to child temperament or personality," study leader Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition, said in a university news release.
"Some children are more genetically susceptible than others to avoid new foods. However, that doesn't mean that they can't change their behaviors and become a little less picky," he explained.
The researchers looked at 66 pairs of twins, aged 4 to 7, and
found that genes were responsible for 72 percent of the variation
kids' tendency to avoid new foods. The rest of the variation was
influenced by household and family factors.
Previous studies found that genes explained 78 of the variation
in aversion to trying new foods in children aged 8 to 11 and 69
percent of the variation in adults. This suggests that the effect
of genes remains relatively constant across all ages.
The researchers also found that in families with heavier
parents, children were overweight only if they avoided trying new
"It's unexpected, but the finding certainly invites interesting questions about how food neophobia and temperament potentially shape longer-term eating and influence body weight," Faith said.
The study was published March 21 in the journal
To increase children's acceptance of new foods, the researchers
said that parents can serve as role models and provide repeated
opportunities for their children to try new foods. This might
include offering several new foods and letting children decide
which ones they want to try.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
kids and food.
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