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Annu Rev Nutr. 2016 Jul 17;36:157-82. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071715-050916. Epub 2016 Apr 6.

Variation in the Ability to Taste Bitter Thiourea Compounds: Implications for Food Acceptance, Dietary Intake, and Obesity Risk in Children.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802; email:
Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802.


The ability to taste bitter thiourea compounds, such as phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) and 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP), is inherited. Polymorphisms in the bitter-taste receptor TAS2R38 explain the majority of phenotypic variation in the PROP phenotype. It has been hypothesized that the PROP phenotype is a marker for perception of a variety of chemosensory experiences. In this review, we discuss studies that have investigated the relationship between bitter-taste response and dietary behaviors and chronic health in children. Investigators have hypothesized that children who are PROP tasters have lower liking and consumption of bitter foods, such as cruciferous vegetables. Additionally, several studies suggest that children who are unable to taste PROP (i.e., nontasters) like and consume more dietary fat and are prone to obesity. The relationship between the PROP phenotype and obesity is influenced by multiple confounders, including sex, food access, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Future studies that adjust for these variables are needed.


6-n-propylthiouracil; children; diet; food acceptance; obesity; taste genetics

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