Have a taste for liver? Food preferences might be hard wired

woman eating
New evidence identifies gene that makes you like ice cream. (Credit: Orofacial/Flickr via Nature World News)

Fancy some white wine? What about artichokes? Dark chocolate? Stinky cheese? Butter for your bread? Sounds like an satisfying summer meal to me. A recent genome-wide study has discovered new genes that help determine what we like to eat:

In unraveling the genetic cipher, the researchers conducted a pair of genome-wide association studies on more than 2,300 Italians along with another 1,755 people from countries elsewhere in Europe and in Central Asia. In the analysis, 17 independent genes appeared to influence tastes for foods including artichokes, bacon, coffee, chicory, dark chocolate, blue cheese, ice cream, liver, oil or butter on bread, orange juice, plain yogurt, white wine, and mushrooms.

The Italian geneticists identified 17 genes that seem to relate to food preferences even though they are not known to relate to smell or taste. This means the genetic influences on what we like to eat are much more complicated and involve many more processes than those contained in our mouths and noses. Anyone who has trembled at the site of an Oreo can attest. Geneticists Nicola Pirastu and Antoniette Robino believe their findings could help refine diet plans for those people who need to lose weight for medical benefit. By taking into account a person’s taste preferences, eating plans might be easier to follow and more effective:

Our studies will be important for understanding the interaction between the environment, lifestyles, and the genome in determining health outcomes. Although there has been a lot of work on food-related diseases such as obesity, this has rarely taken food preferences into account. This is a major limitation which our work attempts to remedy, and as yet we have only really scratched the surface of this issue.

And, having a genetic screening via blood or saliva sample would be a much more accurate way to devise an eating program than relying on people to recall what they’ve eaten over the last few years. Self-reporting of diet is a particularly flawed research method. The researchers briefly described a pilot study of 190 obese individuals who were put on gene-tailored diets, with a net 600 calorie reduction per day regardless of which foods they ate. Those eating the tailored diet lost a third more weight than control subjects:

Something as simple as measuring fat liking can provide us with a great deal of information. Understanding the genetics of these traits will open new possibilities for the development of personalised diets and of functional foods aimed at improving people’s health and therefore their quality of life,” Dr Pirastu said.

Bon Appetite! Additional Resources:

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend