An individual’s genetics can control what type of foods they like to eat, latest research has demonstrated.

Scientists from Edinburgh University have found that a person’s DNA determines whether they prefer savoury or sweet food options.

During the study, the team of academics examined the food intake and genomes of approximately 160,000 adults to assess whether their DNA affected their snack choices. Each participant also filled in surveys to outline their favourite food and drink groups.

They discovered that an individual’s DNA did determine what foods they like, with more than 400 genetic variants found to be influencing these choices.

According to the researchers, most people have either a low-calorie, highly palatable or acquired taste buds.

Participants in the highly palatable food group preferred to eat white bread, fizzy drinks and fish and chips, while those in the acquired food group opted for olives, gherkins and alcohol.

The study also shows that those in the low-calorie food group preferred eating porridge, fruit, vegetables, wholemeal bread and brown rice.

Top researcher Professor Jim Wilson said: “This is a great example of applying complex statistical methods to large genetic datasets in order to reveal new biology.

“’In this case, the underlying basis of what we like to eat and how that is structured hierarchically, from individual items up to large groups of foodstuffs.”

Fellow academic Dr Nicola Pirastu said: “One of the important messages from this paper is that although taste receptors and thus taste is important in determining which foods you like, it is in fact what happens in your brain which is driving what we observe.

“’Another important observation is that the main division of preferences is not between savoury and sweet foods, as might have been expected, but between highly pleasurable and high calorie foods and those for which taste needs to be learned.”

She added: “This difference is reflected in the regions of the brain involved in their liking and it strongly points to an underlying biological mechanism.”

The research can now be accessed in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

 

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