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Publication Detail
Nature and nurture in children's food preferences.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Comparative Study
  • Authors:
    Fildes A, van Jaarsveld CHM, Llewellyn CH, Fisher A, Cooke L, Wardle J
  • Publication date:
    04/2014
  • Pagination:
    911, 917
  • Journal:
    Am J Clin Nutr
  • Volume:
    99
  • Issue:
    4
  • Status:
    Published
  • Country:
    United States
  • PII:
    ajcn.113.077867
  • Language:
    eng
  • Keywords:
    Child Behavior, Child Development, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Family Relations, Female, Food Preferences, Humans, Male, Models, Genetic, Models, Psychological, Parents, Surveys and Questionnaires, Twins, Dizygotic, Twins, Monozygotic, United Kingdom
Abstract
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.
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