UK researchers have suggested that people's food preferences may be dependent on their genes, instead of their upbringing and social environment, as earlier thought.
Experts from Kings College London say that a comparison of eating habits of thousands of pairs of twins has shown that identical twins are likely to have the same dietary patterns in most cases—such as liking for coffee and garlic.
More than 3,000 female twins aged between 18 and 79 were assessed for their food habits during the study. It was done by using five different dietary 'groups', which included diets heavy in fruit and vegetables, alcohol, fried meat and potatoes, and low-fat products or low in meat, fish and poultry.
The researchers found that between 41 to 48 per cent of a person's leaning towards one of the food groups was influenced by genetics. The strongest link between individual liking and genes involved a taste for garlic and coffee.
'For so long we have assumed that our upbringing and social environment determine what we like to eat. This has blown that theory out of the water - more often than not, our genetic make-up influences our dietary patterns,' the BBC quoted lead researcher Professor Tim Spector as saying.
The researchers are of the opinion that healthy eating campaigns like the Government's 'five-a-day' fruit and vegetable initiative may have to be revised, as people who are genetically 'programmed' to eat less fruit and vegetables will be more resistant to health messages than thought.
Professor Jane Wardle from University College says that the findings, coupled with other similar research, shown that genetics play a 'moderate' role in the development of preferred foods.
'People have always made the assumption that food choices are all due to environmental factors during life, but it now seems this isn't the case,' she said.
'It also suggests that what parents do to influence eating habits in childhood are not necessarily as important as we thought - and that a lot of effort may need to be made with young people as they become independent in adolescence to steer them onto the right course,' she added