Food and Behaviour Research

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Genetic taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil influences food preference and reported intake in preschool children

Keller KL, Steinmann L, Nurse RJ, Tepper B (2002) Appetite.  2002 Feb;38(1): 3-12. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Adult tasters of 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) are more sensitive to bitter taste and fattiness in foods, and often show lower acceptance of foods that are high in these taste qualities. This study hypothesized that PROP taster children would show lower acceptance of these same foods.

Sixty-seven preschool children were classified as PROP tasters (N = 43) or nontasters (N = 24) using a suprathreshold screening solution. Children rated acceptance of 10 bitter and/or fat-containing foods using a 5-pt. facial scale. Parents completed a food frequency questionnaire to estimate their child's intake.

Taster children showed lower acceptance of raw broccoli and American cheese (p < or = 0 x 05). Taster-girls showed lower acceptance of full-fat milk than nontaster-girls (p < or = 0 x 05). This effect was not seen in boys. Nontasters reported more daily intake of discretionary fats than tasters (p < or = 0 x 05), an effect largely due to nontaster-girls, in whom reported intake was 2--3 more servings per day than taster-girls, and boys of both groups.

These data suggest that PROP taste sensitivity plays a role in acceptance of certain bitter cruciferous vegetables and cheese by young children. In addition, taster group differences in acceptance of full-fat milk and intake of discretionary fats seen in girls, suggest that gender-specific environmental factors might interact with genetics to influence fat preferences.