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Dietary Patterns and Heritability of Food Choice in a UK Female Twin Cohort

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Birgit Teucher
Affiliation:
Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Jane Skinner
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Paula M. L. Skidmore
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Aedin Cassidy
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Susan J. Fairweather-Tait
Affiliation:
Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, United Kingdom; School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Lee Hooper
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Mark A. Roe
Affiliation:
Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Robert Foxall
Affiliation:
Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Sarah L. Oyston
Affiliation:
Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Lynn F. Cherkas
Affiliation:
Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Kings College London, St Thomas' Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom.
Ursula C. Perks
Affiliation:
Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Kings College London, St Thomas' Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom.
Tim D. Spector
Affiliation:
Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Kings College London, St Thomas' Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom.
Alex J. MacGregor*
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom; Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Kings College London, St Thomas' Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom. a.macgregor@uea.ac.uk
*
*Address for correspondence: Professor Alex MacGregor, School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.

Abstract

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To examine the contribution of genetic factors to food choice, we determined dietary patterns from food frequency questionnaires in 3262 UK female twins aged 18 to 79 years. Five distinct dietary patterns were identified (fruit and vegetable, high alcohol, traditional English, dieting, low meat) that accounted for 22% of the total variance. These patterns are similar to those found in other singleton Western populations, and were related to body mass index, smoking status, physical activity and deprivation scores. Older subjects had higher scores on the fruit and vegetable and traditional English patterns, while lower social deprivation was associated with higher scores for fruit and vegetable, and lower scores for traditional English patterns. All 5 patterns were heritable, with estimates ranging from 41% to 48%. Among individual dietary components, a strongly heritable component was identified for garlic (46%), coffee (41%), fruit and vegetable sources (49%), and red meat (39%). Our results indicate that genetic factors have an important influence in determining food choice and dietary habits in Western populations. The relatively high heritability of specific dietary components implicates taste perception as a possible target for future genetic studies.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007
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