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Physiol Behav. 2007 Apr 23;90(5):809-17. Epub 2007 Jan 18.

Influence of PROP taster status and maternal variables on energy intake and body weight of pre-adolescents.

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Department of Food Science, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-0231, USA.


Genetic taste blindness to the bitterness of 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) may be a marker for increased energy intake and body weight. This hypothesis has not been tested in pre-adolescent children. This study determined if non-taster children would report higher energy intakes and maintain higher body weights than taster children. Maternal variables which are known to influence food intake and body weight during childhood were also considered including maternal weight, maternal restraint and disinhibition and child feeding practices. Sixty-five children with a mean age of 9.0+/-0.2 years participated. They completed a 3-day diet recall for the estimation of daily energy and macronutrient intakes. BMI (mothers) and BMI%-for-age (children) were calculated from measured heights and weights. Non-taster children reported higher daily energy intakes than super-taster children (p < or = 0.05), but no differences in macronutrient selection were observed. Also, children of disinhibited mothers reported higher daily energy intakes than children of mothers who were not disinhibited (p < or = 0.05). However, these variables did not predict children's body weight. Rather, regression modeling (R2 = 0.59; p < or = 0.0001) revealed that restriction, concern for child weight and maternal BMI were positive predictors of children's BMI%-for-age and pressure to eat was a strong negative predictor (p-value range = 0.02-0.004). PROP status was not a predictor of body weight in these children. These results suggest that in pre-adolescent children, current energy intakes were negatively related to children's PROP status and positively related to maternal disinhibition. However, BMI%-for-age, a measure of long-term energy balance, was related to child feeding practices and maternal BMI.

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