A Lot On The Plate: What Makes People Eat?
Heredity and family customsespecially what you are fed as babyhave an enormous impact on eating habits and taste cravings as an adult. Thats what scientists speaking at the worlds largest annual food science conference said at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO.
Flavor is not simply the sum of sensations from the classically defined senses, said Barry Green of the Yale University School of Medicine.
Flavor perception arises frominputs that interact within [the brain that are] organized to serve specific adaptive functions, such as poison avoidance, said Green. Understanding this organization is necessary for understanding thebasis of food perception, selection and consumption.
Dennis Drayna, of the National Institutes of Health, noted that numerous studies show the basis of taste preferences and dislikes is at the genetic level.
Catherine Forestell, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, reported that an infants reactions to food are similar to an adults. In fact, food preferences may start during pregnancy. Taste buds, she said, form in the seventh-week of gestation, and during pregnancy the amniotic fluid acquires the odor of the food consumed by the mother.
We can increase childrens acceptance of healthy foods by having mothers vary their diets during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Repeated exposure, only 8 or 9 times, leads to greater acceptance of a vegetable, she said.
Unlike the bottle-fed infant, who experiences a constant set of flavors from standard formulas, the breast-fed infants sensory would is extremely rich and varied.
John de Castro, dean of humanities and social sciences at Sam Houston State University, said his studies of identical and fraternal twins confirm a strong role of heredity. But he said families and entire populations can consciously choose to eat less, or to vary the typical American feeding pattern of a light breakfast and larger lunch, followed quickly by a large dinner.
This impact of food intake on weight gain still is significant. Eating low-density food can cut caloric intake by more than half, more successful than any diet drug yet made.
Now in its 66th year, IFT Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO is the worlds single largest annual scientific meeting and technical exposition of its kind. The convention runs through Wednesday.
Founded in 1939, and with world headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 22,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government.