UCL in the News: Picky Eaters? They Get It From You
10 October 2007
… Researchers examined the eating habits of 5,390 pairs of twins between 8 and 11 years old and found children's aversions to trying new foods are mostly inherited.
The study, led by Dr. Lucy Cooke [UCL Epidemiology & Public Health], was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August. Dr. Cooke and others in the field believe it is the first to use a standard scale to investigate the contribution of genetics and environment to childhood neophobia.
According to the report, 78 percent is genetic and the other 22 percent environmental.
"People have really dismissed this as an idea because they have been looking at the social associations between parents and their children," Dr. Cooke said. "I came from a position of not wanting to blame parents." …
Most children eat a wide variety of foods until they are around 2, when they suddenly stop. The phase can last until the child is 4 or 5. It's an evolutionary response, researchers believe. Toddlers' taste buds shut down at about the time they start walking, giving them more control over what they eat. "If we just went running out of the cave as little cave babies and stuck anything in our mouths, that would have been potentially very dangerous," Dr. Cooke said. …
Kim Severson, 'New York Times'