Salty Or Sweet

Whether you are more apt to reach for a handful of potato chips or go for the bowl of candy may have something to do with your genetics.Salty Sweet 2

Looking at taste preferences among about 119,000 customers of European ancestry who consented to research, 23andMe scientists identified genetic markers associated with preferring sweet snacks to salty or savoury ones.

Your age and culture influences the food you like, but genetics plays an important role too. 23andMe customers were evenly split about whether they preferred a salty snack or a sweet one. But looking at the data, researchers here found two genetic markers associated with preferring sweet snacks over salty ones.

23andMe’s study found that individuals with the AA genotype at had higher odds of preferring sweets, while those who were GG at had lower odds of liking a sugary treat. The researchers also found that individuals with the CC genotype at were at higher odds for liking sweet treats while those who were TT at that location had lower odds. [table id=4 /]

One of the many interesting aspects of this finding is that both of these genetic markers are in genes that are associated either with metabolism or body mass. The marker is in the gene FGF21 and the other marker, , is located in the FTO gene. Unlike other studies where genetic markers that influence food preference were found in genes associated with taste receptors on the tongue, these genes are more associated with how people metabolize food and could offer more insight for researchers studying diabetes, obesity and nutrition.[table id=5 /]

Writing recently in the New York Times, Carl Zimmer explained how variants in the FTO gene now associated with obesity, may have offered an evolutionary advantage in the past. Now, however, with more sedentary lives and more fat, sugar and salt in our diets those variants could be detrimental to people’s health. 23andMe researchers compiled a white paper looking at these and 27 other variants associated with taste preference.

To find out more you can download the paper here.