Genes predict a weakness for fatty foods

Summary:Researchers uncover genes that may explain why some of us gorge on fat more than others.

Food companies may some day tailor the taste of their foods to your genotype, predicts Columbia University obesity researchers. In this month's issue of the Journal of Food Science they report on genetic underpinnings for variations in the way different people perceive and enjoy fat.

They found that the gene TAS2R38, the receptor for bitter taste compounds, may influence a person's ability to detect fat in foods. About 30% of U.S. adults are "nontasters" of bitter compounds. These "nontasters" also appear to have trouble perceiving fat, and may have to eat more of it to reach the same level of fat satisfaction as "tasters."

The researchers also considered another gene, CD36, which helps transport fatty acids.The team looked at the fat preferences and CD36 status of 300 African-American adults. They discovered that a part of the gene, named rs1761667, predicts how people taste fat in their mouths. People with a particular genotype at this site have a higher preference for added fats.

Knowing a person's genetic predilection for fatty food could help doctors tailor obesity treatment and counseling. Food producers could offer different levels of fat content and creaminess in food in order to best satisfy people of different genotypes.

Photo:  Katie Lips/Flickr

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Audrey Quinn is a contributing writer.

Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.