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Fatty food liking gene found, researchers claim

Washington, Sat, 04 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb 4 (ANI): The gene related to fatty foods preference in humans has been claimed to be found by researchers.


The researchers have discovered that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may like high-fat foods more than those who have other forms of this gene.


The results helped explain why some people struggle when placed on a low-fat diet and may one day assist people in selecting diets that are easier for them to follow.


The results also may help food developers create new low-fat foods that taste better.


"Fat is universally palatable to humans," Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, Penn State said.


"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.


"In animals, CD36 is a necessary gene for the ability to both detect and develop preferences for fat. Our study is one of the first to show this relationship in humans," she said.


Keller and a team of scientists from Penn State, Columbia University, Cornell University and Rutgers University examined 317 African-American males and females because individuals in this ethnic group are highly vulnerable to obesity and thus 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 then asked to rate their perceptions of the dressings' oiliness, fat content and creaminess on a scale anchored on the ends with "extremely low" and "extremely high."


The team also gave participants questionnaires aimed at understanding their food preferences.


Participants rated how much they liked each food on a scale anchored with "dislike extremely" and "like extremely."


Foods included on the questionnaire were associated with poor dietary intake and health outcomes, such as half-and-half, sour cream, mayonnaise, bacon, fried chicken, hot dogs, French fries, cheese, chips, cake, cookies and doughnuts.


The researchers collected saliva samples from the participants to determine which forms of CD36 they had. From the saliva samples, they extracted DNA fragments and examined differences in the CD36 gene contained within the fragments.


They found that participants who had the "AA" form of the gene, present in 21 percent of the population rated the salad dressings as creamier than individuals who had other forms of the gene.


These individuals reported that the salad dressings were creamier regardless of how much fat was actually in them.


The researchers also found that "AA" individuals liked salad dressings, half-and-half, olive oil and other cooking oils more than those who had other forms of the gene.


"It is possible that the CD36 gene is associated with fat intake and therefore obesity through a mechanism of oral fat perception and preference," Keller said.


"In other words, 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," she added.


The study is published in the journal Obesity. (ANI)


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