A preference for fatty foods may be genetic.
People with certain forms of the CD36 gene may like high-fat foods more than those who have other forms of the gene, according to researchers. This means that these people are therefore more likely to become overweight based on their high-fat diet.
“Fat is universally palatable to humans, yet we have demonstrated for the first time that people who have particular forms of the CD36 gene tend to like higher fat foods more and may be at greater risk for obesity compared to those who do not have this form of the gene,” said Penn State researcher Kathleen Keller.
Keller and a team of scientists from Penn State and various other universities examined 317 African-American males and females, since individuals in this ethnic group are highly vulnerable to obesity and are at greatest risk for obesity-related diseases. The team gave the participants Italian salad dressings prepared with varying amounts of canola oil, which is rich in long-chain fatty acids.
The participants were asked to rate their perceptions of the dressings’ oiliness, fat content and creaminess. The researchers also collected saliva samples from the participants to determine which forms of CD36 they had.
They found that participants who had the “AA” form of the gene, present in 21 per cent of the population, rated the salad dressings as creamier than individuals who had other forms of the gene.
“Our results suggest that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may find fat creamier and more enjoyable than others. This may increase their risk for obesity and other health problems,” said Keller.
The results help explain why some people struggle when placed on low-fat diets, and may possibly assist people in selecting diets that are easier for them to follow. Many Australians are at increased health risk because they are overweight or obese.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) estimated in 2000 that 60 per cent of Australian adults aged 25-80 were overweight, 21 per cent of these being obese. Obesity is a known risk factor for chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and cancer.
Keller hopes to use this research to develop foods that are perceived by the brain as being “high-fat treats”, when in reality they are low-fat and healthy.
Source: Science Daily