Vietnam Time

10/7/2017 4:45:51 PM

Genes could be the reason why kids are picky eaters: Study

If mealtime with your child is often battle time, you might have your genes to blame, according to new findings reported in the Daily Mail on October 4th.

For the first time, two genes have been identified by the University of Illinois’ Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP) to be responsible for picky eating habits.

Wondering if your child's picky eating habits are down to genetics? Science confirms your suspicions.

The result was based on 153 children between the ages of two and four, and their saliva was studied for their genetic makeup.

The genes - a variation of the TAS2R38 gene and the CA6 gene - were found to be related to bitter taste receptors that make children who possess the gene, sensitive to bitter flavours.

In addition, the TAS2R38 genetic variation is seen in children who were only interested in a limited variety of foods, while the CA6 is noted in those who were prone to fussiness during mealtimes.

The findings concurred with the results of a previous study on nearly 2,000 families with twins, as reported in The Telegraph last October.

Researchers from the University College London found that only 22 per cent of food fussiness was caused by environment factors.

“Establishing a substantial genetic influence on both of these traits might be quite a relief to parents as they often feel judged or feel guilty for their children’s fussy eating,” said Dr. Andrea Smith, who jointly led the research.

Even with the discovery, I-TOPP’s lead study author Natasha Chong Cole felt that picky eaters were the result of nature and nurture. Her next research will examine how genes and environmental factors jointly affect this behaviour.

“Even if you have children who are predisposed to be picky because of genes or temperament, what is the balance in trying to develop [better] eating behaviours?” said Dr. Cole.

In the Daily Mail article, Dr. Cole also expressed interest in finding out how picky eating habits develop in children under the age of two, as most research “completely misses the window of time when children are transitioning from breast milk to food that the rest of the family is eating”, she said.

For now, the best way for parents to handle fussy eaters? Keep exposing your child to the new food, sometimes as many as 15 times, before they’re willing to give it a try, said Dr. Cole.

But do not force them, she added. /.

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