Can't get enough of sweet chocolate and salty potato chips? Blame it on your genes.
According to a recent study from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, researchers have found links between food preference and genetics, specifically surrounding hormone regulation, depression and obesity risk.
"Most people have a hard time modifying their dietary habits, even if they know it is in their best interest," explained lead researcher Silvia Berciano. "This is because our food preferences and ability to work toward goals or follow plans affect what we eat and our ability to stick with diet changes. Ours is the first study describing how brain genes affect food intake and dietary preferences in a group of healthy people."
As a part of their study, Berciano and her team analyzed the genes of more than 800 European adults against a questionnaire about their eating habits. The findings showed adults who consumed more chocolate tended to have a larger waist size and the oxytocin receptor gene, which is linked to obesity.
Berciano says the study's findings could one day help dietitians provide individualized diet advice based on genetic testing. “This information will contribute to a better understanding of eating behaviour and facilitate the implementation of personalized dietary advice that should result in better compliance and more successful prevention and therapy of chronic disorders,” she explained.
The findings can also be used in preventative care as doctors can tailor a diet for patients to reduce disease risk.
Currently, many dietitians and nutritionists attempt to form specialized diets based on responses to questions about their client's diet.