I don´t like shopping, but only when we have to go to the mall, I always get the urge to have a greasy burger and chips….it drives my husband crazy. I realised a long time ago that my craving started when I was hauled to go shopping with my mother as a child and before our hour long trip home, we always stopped for a pie or burger with chips….my mom´s favourite. Now that I am older and wiser, I can fight the urge and just go home, but that doesn´t mean that it always brings back the same memories.
Food preference and choice is associated with so many factors such as age, gender, cultural and social beliefs as well as genetic and ethnic differences. The most widely researched gene is that of TAS2R38 which has been linked with taste perception. This taste receptor gene has been shown to be associated with different perception of sweet,umami and bitter tastes. This means that individuals who have inherited a particular variation are more sensitive to bitter tastes such as those found in coffee,beer,dark chocolate as well as Thiourea in brassica vegetables such as Brocolli and other functional foods such as soya and green tea.
Research has shown that according the gene, individuals fall into three groups supertasters,medium tasters and nontasters, with Medium tasters depending on the perceived intensity of PROP (Propylthiouracil). In the caucasian population approximately 25% are Super and non-tasters respectively and 50% are medium tasters. Interestingly supertasters tend to be more sensitive to bitter, sweet and hot foods. Supertasters have also been found to have lower BMI´s than nontasters and medium tasters, possibly because of their tendency to choose healthier foods and smaller total calorie consumption than their non tasting counterparts. It was however found that they also tend to eat less green leafy vegetables.Non-tasters on the other hand were found to prefer sweet foods and higher-fat items. It is this difference that has scientists interested if this could be one of the factors contributing to obesity.
This gene has been included in several panels which I always find interesting. I don´t know my own genotype for this gene, but one thing is for sure, I did eat those pies and chips as a child and learned to love broccoli, therefore my environment played a bigger role in what I chose to eat at that time. Whether Dietitians and healthcare professionals can use this snippet of information as a tool to change behaviour or food preference in the future is left to be seen.
|Feeney E et al.Genetic variation in taste perecption:does it have a role in healthy eating?.Proc of Nutr Soc 2011:70:135-143|
|El Sohemy A et al.Nutrigenomics of taste-impact of food preferences and production.Forum Nutr 2007;60:176-82|
|Dotson C.D et al.Variation in the gene TAS2R38 is associated with the eating behaviour disinhibition in Old order Amish women.Appetite 2010 Feb;54(1);93-99|