Research has revealed that a child’s genetic makeup is partly responsible for creating fussy eaters
Any worried parents concerned that they’re solely to blame for their child’s picky eating habits can rest assured – a new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has revealed that genetics can influence which foods a toddler will or will not eat.
Scientists at University College London undertook the research, which surveyed nearly 2,000 sets of 16-month old twins – a mix of both identical, who share all their genes, and fraternal twins, who on average share 50%.
Andrea Smith, a PhD student who jointly led the research, said parents often feel to blame for their children’s fussy eating. “Understanding that these traits are largely innate might help to deflect this blame,” she said. “At 16 months we found that overall 46% of the variation in food fussiness was down to genes, as well as 58% of food neophobia (rejection of new foods).”
“That these traits were so significantly influenced by genes so early on really indicates how innate the tendency is, and that it is not because of the parents that are kind of moulding [children] into fussy eaters – it is already there when they are 16 months old.”
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you should give in to your child’s picky tendencies. You can blame half of it on genes, but the other half is down to environmental factors; in other words, a picky eater can be turned into an adventurous foodie with a little work. The advice remains that parents should encourage their kids to try new foods; remember, little ones need to be offered a new food 15 times before he or she will eat it! So, keep up the good work at during mealtimes.