Our Genes May Be Influencing Our Food Choices, Study Finds

By Sharon Moore on May 02, 2017

Do you wonder why you keep eating certain foods even though you know that they are bad for your health? The reason is not simply these foods are your favourite. The reason may actually be deeper, like it’s actually in your genes.

That’s the findings of Silvia Berciano, a predoctoral fellow at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, which be presented at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting, to be held April 22-26 in Chicago. 

Many people struggle at changing their dietary habits even if they know that these could put their health at risk. And according to Berciano: "This is because our food preferences and ability to work toward goals or follow plans affect what we eat and our ability to stick with diet changes. Ours is the first study describing how brain genes affect food intake and dietary preferences in a group of healthy people. 

While previous research has identified genes involved with behaviours seen in eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, little is known about how natural variation in these genes could affect eating behaviours in healthy people. Gene variation is a result of subtle DNA differences among individuals that make each person unique. 

For the current study, researchers looked at the data of 818 men and women of European ancestry and gathered information about their diet using a questionnaire. The researchers found that the genes they studied did play a significant role in a person’s food choices and dietary habits. For instance, higher chocolate intake and a larger waist size was associated with certain forms of the oxytocin receptor gene, and an obesity-associated gene played a role in vegetable and fibre intake. They also observed that certain genes were involved in salt and fat intake. 

The new findings could be used to inform precision-medicine approaches that help minimize a person’s risk for common diseases—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer—by tailoring diet-based prevention and therapy to the specific needs of an individual.

Source of this article: 

Behaviour related genes, dietary preferences and anthropometric traits

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