New NorthPop publication shows that innate preference for sweet in the mother can influence children’s eating habits

Innate preference for sweet in the mother can influence the child’s eating habits, with a higher intake of sweet foods as a result.

Today we know that an unhealthy diet increases the risk of many of our most common diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and caries. The kind of food we eat affects our health in many ways, but the range of produce available is large and many products are less healthy with a high content of sugar, salt and saturated fat.

We all have different sets of genes, an characteristic variation that affects our eating behavior and food choices. This difference may be one of the explanations why we perceive and like different tastes more, or less, such as sweet and bitter.

In our study, we looked at the eating habits of mothers and their children, i.e. what they ate. The mothers have answered a taste questionnaire and two dietary questionnaires within the NorthPop study, and they have also answered dietary questionnaires for the children’s dietary intake on two occasions. We have, via saliva samples, identified known taste and food choice-related genes in the mothers. We found that children of mothers with a genetic preference for an olfactory receptor-related gene were fed more sweet foods and had a higher intake of sugar. The corresponding relationship was seen in the mothers who also had a higher BMI.

The conclusion is that one of the genes seems to be associated with a higher intake of sweet in the mothers and their children, along with a higher BMI in the mothers.

About the scientific publication: Lif Holgerson, Pernilla, Pamela Hasslöf, Anders Esberg, Simon Haworth, Magnus Domellöf, Christina E. West, and Ingegerd Johansson. 2023. ”Genetic Preference for Sweet Taste in Mothers Associates with Mother-Child Preference and Intake” Nutrients 15, no. 11: 2565.