Objective: Negative associations between the inherited ability to taste the bitter compound 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and preference for fat and body weight have been observed in adults. This study tested the relationships among the ability to taste PROP, reported food intake, and body weight in young children. Research Methods and Procedures: Fifty-three 4- to 5-year-old children were classified as tasters (N = 35) or nontasters (N = 18) of PROP using a standard screening solution. Anthropometric measures were taken in the laboratory. Mothers completed questionnaires to assess their child's food intake and their own dieting behaviors. Results: Nontaster boys had higher weight-for-height percentiles than taster boys (77th vs. 56th percentile, respectively), but the relationship was opposite for girls (p ≤ 0.05). Nontasters reportedly consumed a higher percentage of their daily energy from protein (p ≤ 0.01), mainly as high-fat meat products. Tasters reportedly consumed a higher percentage of their daily energy from sugars (p ≤ 0.05), mainly in the form of brownies, doughnuts, cookies, soft drinks, and juice drinks. There were no differences between tasters and nontasters for reported intake of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, or discretionary fats. Discussion: This study is the first, to our knowledge, to report weight differences in children as a function of their PROP status. Genetic taste factors seem to play a role in the development of dietary patterns and weight differences in young children, but the nature of these relationships may vary with gender.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Food Science
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health