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Behav Genet. 2011 Jul;41(4):512-21. doi: 10.1007/s10519-010-9403-8. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

Food neophobia in young adults: genetic architecture and relation to personality, pleasantness and use frequency of foods, and body mass index--a twin study.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19119, USA.


Food neophobia has been studied extensively in children, but its causal origins and relationship to eating behavior in adults are not well understood. We studied genetic and environmental effects on variation in food neophobia, measured using the Food Neophobia Scale, and explored associations between food neophobia and personality, pleasantness and use frequency of food groups, and body mass index in young adult twins (N = 1175, aged 20-25 years, 54.7% women). In women, additive genetic effects (heritability) accounted for 61% of variation in food neophobia, whereas in men, shared environmental effects explained 45% of the variation. Food neophobia negatively correlated with the personality trait Openness, corrected for the structural overlap (r = -0.23), and in women, these two traits had a genetic correlation (r (g) = -0.39). In addition, food neophobia negatively correlated with pleasantness and use frequency of fruits and vegetables and of fish and with mean pleasantness of foods. Once evolutionarily important, food neophobia should at present be considered in nutrition counseling as a possible barrier to a balanced diet.

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