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Genetics May Make It Hard to Eat Healthy

Genetics May Make It Hard to Eat Healthy

Emerging research may explain why it is difficult to avoid eating certain foods, even when you know they are not good for you.

Gene variants that affect the way our brain works may be the reason, according to a new study. The new research could one day lead to new strategies to empower people to enjoy and stick to their optimal diets.

The study was at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting.

“Most people have a hard time modifying their dietary habits, even if they know it is in their best interest,” said Silvia Berciano, a predoctoral fellow at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

“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.”

Although previous research has identified genes involved with behaviors seen in eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, little is known about how natural variation in these genes could affect eating behaviors in healthy people.

Gene variation is a result of subtle DNA differences among individuals that make each person unique.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed the genetics of 818 men and women of European ancestry and gathered information about their diet using a questionnaire. The researchers found that the genes they studied did play a significant role in a person’s food choices and dietary habits.

For example, higher chocolate intake and a larger waist size was associated with certain forms of the oxytocin receptor gene, and an obesity-associated gene played a role in vegetable and fiber intake.

They also observed that certain genes were involved in salt and fat intake.

The new findings could be used to inform precision-medicine approaches that help minimize a person’s risk for common diseases — such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer — by tailoring diet-based prevention and therapy to the specific needs of an individual.

“The knowledge gained through our study will pave the way to better understanding of eating behavior and facilitate the design of personalized dietary advice that will be more amenable to the individual, resulting in better compliance and more successful outcomes,” said Berciano.

The researchers plan to perform similar investigations in other groups of people with different characteristics and ethnicities to better understand the applicability and potential impact of these findings.

Source: Universidad Autonoma de Madrid/EurekAlert
 
Photo: Credit: Adriano Kitani.

Genetics May Make It Hard to Eat Healthy

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2017). Genetics May Make It Hard to Eat Healthy. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/04/24/genetics-may-make-it-hard-to-eat-healthy/119568.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Apr 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Apr 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.