PROP taster status interacts with the built environment to influence children's food acceptance and body weight status

Authors

  • Carlye Burd,

    1. Department of Research Medicine, New York Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NY, New York 10025, USA
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  • Araliya Senerat,

    1. Department of Research Medicine, New York Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NY, New York 10025, USA
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  • Earle Chambers,

    1. Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York 10461, USA
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  • Kathleen L. Keller

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Research Medicine, New York Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NY, New York 10025, USA
    2. Department of Nutritional Sciences and Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, 16802, USA
    • Department of Nutritional Sciences and Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, 16802, USA
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  • Disclosure: There are no conflicts of interest on behalf of any of the authors.

  • Funding agencies: Funding for this study came from NIH grant K01DK068008 and an NIH/NIDDK Pilot and Feasibility Award (KLK). Additional support came from the Obesity Research Center Grant (NIH grant 5P30DK026687-27). Additionally, the authors received GIS consultation from James Quinn, Geographer and Senior Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst, with the Built Environment and Health Research Group at Columbia University.

Abstract

Objectives:

Eating behaviors and obesity are complex phenotypes influenced by genes and the environment, but few studies have investigated the interaction of these two variables. The purpose of this study was to use a gene-environment interaction model to test for differences in children's food acceptance and body weights.

Design and Methods:

Inherited ability to taste 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) was assessed as a marker of oral taste responsiveness. Food environment was classified as “healthy” or “unhealthy” based on proximity to outlets that sell fruits/vegetables and fast foods using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The cohort consisted of 120 children, ages 4-6 years, recruited from New York City over 2005-2010. Home address and other demographic variables were reported by parents and PROP status, food acceptance, and anthropometrics were assessed in the laboratory. Based on a screening test, children were classified as PROP tasters or non-tasters. Hierarchical linear models analysis of variance was performed to examine differences in food acceptance and body mass index (BMI) z-scores as a function of PROP status, the food environment (“healthy” vs. “unhealthy”), and their interaction.

Results and Conclusion:

Results showed an interaction between taster status and the food environment on BMI z-score and food acceptance. Non-taster children living in healthy food environments had greater acceptance of vegetables than taster children living in healthy food environments (P ≤ 0.005). Moreover, non-tasters from unhealthy food environments had higher BMI z-scores than all other groups (P ≤ 0.005). Incorporating genetic markers of taste into studies that assess the built environment may improve the ability of these measures to predict risk for obesity and eating behaviors. Obesity (2012)

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