Capital Medical Center
Click Here to Subscribe!

E-Health Services

Daily Health News

  Latest News
  FDA Approvals
  FYI

Health Information

Newsletter Topics

Alzheimer's Disease
Anxiety
Arthritis
Blood Pressure
Breast Cancer
Cancer
Depression
Diabetes
Exercise / Fitness
Female Urological Disorders
Gastrointestinal Health
Healthy Diet
Heart Disease
Men's Health
Menopause
Neurology
Orthopedics
Pain Management
Parenting
Pediatrics
Pregnancy
Senior Caregiving
Seniors' Health
Sleep Disorders
Sports Medicine
Stroke
Weight Management
Women's Health
Women's Heart Health

 Latest News
Return to  
Daily Health Main Page
     
  Tweet it! Pin it!
  Love Chocolate? Potato Chips? Your Genes Might Be to Blame
 
  Study findings may someday lead to more individualized diet advice, researcher says

 

SUNDAY, April 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Your tendency to indulge in chocolate, go heavy on salt, or eat veggies may be tied to certain gene variants, a new study suggests.

The study, of more than 800 adults, found links between several genes and people's food likes and dislikes.

The gene variants were already known. One, for example, is linked to obesity risk; others are involved in hormone regulation.

It's not yet clear what the new findings mean, the researchers said.

And they stressed that aversion to broccoli is not genetically determined: You might just need a better way of cooking it.

But the findings add to evidence that food preferences are partly related to genetic variation.

"Research is really beginning to look at the role of genes in food intake and nutrient use," said Lauri Wright, a registered dietitian in Florida who was not involved in the study.

Some researchers believe that understanding the genetics behind food preferences will lead to more individualized diet advice. In fact, there's a burgeoning field known as "nutrigenomics," Wright noted.

For now, though, you are unlikely to have your DNA analyzed when you see a dietitian.

Nor do you need to, added Wright. She said dietitians already ask people about their food preferences -- and a slew of other information -- to help craft personalized diet plans.

Wright is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and director of the doctorate in clinical nutrition program at the University of North Florida.

Past studies have found correlations between gene variations and people's tastes for certain foods.

For the most part, they have looked at genes related to taste receptors, said Silvia Berciano, who led the current study.

Berciano said her team focused on certain genes that have been connected to behavioral and psychological traits (such as depression or addiction), to see if any are also related to eating habits.

To do that, the researchers analyzed variations in those genes, along with self-reported diet habits, among 818 white U.S. adults.

In general, the study found, there were associations between several genes and food preferences. Variations in a gene called FTO, which is related to obesity, were tied to vegetable and fiber consumption, for instance.

It's possible that the FTO gene influences both obesity risk and people's desire for veggies, said Berciano, a researcher at Tufts University in Boston.

Could the link exist simply because people prone to obesity are less likely to be vegetable lovers? Berciano said that's unlikely: The FTO variation tied to vegetable/fiber intake is in a different place on the gene than the variant related to obesity.

In other findings, a gene called SLC6A2, which helps regulate hormones like norepinephrine, was related to fat intake.

Meanwhile, variations in a gene that helps regulate oxytocin -- the so-called "love hormone" involved in bonding, mood and other behaviors -- were related to chocolate intake, as well as heavier weight.

Oxytocin "enhances the brain's reward system," Berciano noted. On the other hand, she said, lower oxytocin levels could boost chocolate cravings as a way to get that same reward.

Berciano was scheduled to present the findings Sunday at the American Society for Nutrition's annual meeting, in Chicago. The results should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

The study does not prove that any of those gene variants directly affect people's food preferences, Wright pointed out.

And even if they have an influence, she said, diet habits are much more than a matter of genes. Economics, culture and a range of environmental factors are at play, she added.

And, with help, people can change even long-standing diet habits. "We don't want people to think, 'I can't help bingeing on chocolate, it's in my genes,' " Wright said.

Still, Berciano said an understanding of the genetics behind food preferences could eventually prove useful in the real world.

"Understanding how genetic differences affect neural regulation of eating behavior means that we'll be able to predict the behavioral tendencies of the individual," she said.

That, she added, could help in creating diet plans that are "easier for the individual to adhere to."

For now, though, Wright said she is unsure how expensive genetic testing would enhance what dietitians already do. "We already look at the individual -- not just their food preferences, but their other lifestyle habits and their economic and social situations," she said.

That bigger context, Wright said, is critical in helping people make lasting diet changes.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has a list of resources for healthy eating tips.

 
 
   More  Latest News
 
   •  Timing of Lunch, Recess May Determine What Kids Eat
  Study found children who ate first consumed more vegetables, while those who played first wasted less food
 
Health Content Provided By:
The health content is provided for informational and educational purposes. It is intended for the general population and may not reflect specific conditions or risk of an individual or segment of the population. Therefore, it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, consultation, treatment or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of information obtained through these services.
E-Home | E-Health Services | Sample News | Subscribe | Feedback | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions
 
© 2010 CAPITAL MEDICAL CENTER · 3900 CAPITAL MALL DRIVE SW · OLYMPIA, WA 98502 · 360-754-5858 · SITEMAP · PRIVACY POLICY · TERMS & CONDITIONS
 
ABOUT US SERVICES & TECHNOLOGY FOR PATIENTS & GUESTS FOR PHYSICIANS FOR EMPLOYEES COMMUNITY CAREERS