Study: Genes Might Be Responsible For Picky Eaters

5:24 PM, Mar 21, 2013   |    comments
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Chapel Hill, NC -- Picky eaters might be able to blame someone else for their food choices--their parents.

A recent UNC-Chapel Hill study shows genes might be to blame for picky eating. No matter how hard parents try to get their kids to try new things, their appetites just might not change.

Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, led the research.

"In some respects, food neophobia, or the aversion to trying new foods, is similar to child temperament or personality," said Faith. "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."

Researchers looked at 66 pairs of twins between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. The results showed that genes explained why 72 percent of kids weren't willing to try new foods.

The other 28 percent of kids were influenced by their environments.

Faith says parents can help their children try new things by providing them with repeated exposure to new foods at home or showing them how much they [the parents] enjoy the foods their kids don't like.

"Each child may respond differently to each approach, and research needs to examine new interventions that take into account children's individuality," Faith said. "But what we do know through this and other emerging science is that this individuality includes genetic uniqueness."

UNC-Chapel Hill

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