Love of fatty foods may be in your genes

Frances McInnis
Shine OnMarch 9, 2012
woman eating French fries
woman eating French fries

Do you hate low-fat options and crave fat-laden foods like French fries, doughnuts and butter? Finally, something to blame: your genes.

An American study says preference for fat may have a genetic basis. The study suggests that a specific form of the CD36 gene, which determines how well people sense fat on the tongue, is associated with a propensity towards fatty foods.

"Fat is universally palatable to humans," says Kathleen Keller, a professor at Penn State University and lead author of the study. "Yet we have demonstrated for the first time that people who have particular forms of the CD36 gene tend to like higher fat foods more and may be at greater risk for obesity."

The findings may explain why some people find low-fat diets much more difficult to follow than others, and help doctors to select diets that are easier for such people to stick to, reports the Globe and Mail.

[See also: Is diet or exercise more important?]

The researchers involved also think the results could help food developers create healthier and better-tasting food. "We could use this information to design more healthful fats that also give foods the high sensory appeal that consumers want," Beverly Tepper, a food sciences professor at Rutgers University, said in a news release.

For the study, Keller and her research team asked more than 300 men and women to taste salad dressings made with varying amounts of oil. The subjects also filled out questionnaires about their enjoyment of a variety of fat-filled foods, including sour cream, bacon, fried chicken and chips, and submitted saliva samples to determine which form of the CD36 gene they had.

The researchers found that individuals with a particular variation of the gene had a greater preference for foods with added fats and oils. The same individuals, which accounted for about 20 percent of the group, also tasted a greater level of creaminess in the salad dressings, regardless of actual fat content.

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