If getting your children to eat their greens is a losing battle, don’t blame your parenting – blame their genes.
For scientists have identified two ‘picky eating’ mutations, which could explain some youngsters’ aversion to certain foods.
The breakthrough could also open the door to new ways of tackling the childhood obesity epidemic, say the US researchers.
In their study, they found that children aged between two and four who were only interested in a limited variety of foods had a variation of the TAS2R38 gene. Another gene, CA6, was associated with trying to exercise control through picky eating. Both genes mark a sensitivity to bitter tastes.
Researcher Natasha Cole, a member of an obesity prevention programme at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said it is not surprising children who are genetically ‘bitter-sensitive’ may be more likely to turn down Brussel sprouts or broccoli.
The study is published in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.