In Canada, researcher Elie Chamoun at the University of Guelph investigated whether genetic variants in taste receptors related to sweet preference, fat taste sensitivity and aversion to bitter green leafy vegetables influence the snacks chosen by preschoolers. Chamoun found that nearly 80 percent of preschoolers in the study carried at least one of these potential at-risk genotypes that could predispose them to poor snacking habits.
For example, the children with the genetic variant related to fat taste sensitivity were found to consume snacks with higher energy density. People with this genetic variant may have low oral sensitivity to fat and therefore consume more fatty foods without sensing it, said Chamoun.
The children with the genetic variant related to avoiding bitter vegetables also consumed snacks with high energy density. The research suggests that the children might be replacing healthy vegetables with unhealthy snacks simply because they are avoiding the healthy ones.