If your child is a frustratingly fussy eater, it's probably not your fault—it's your genes. A new study out of University College London has found that a child's food preferences, finicky or not, are heavily influenced by their genetic makeup.
Researchers analyzed the data of 1,921 families with 16-month-old twins and found that while parenting methods could potentially affect a kid's responses to food, the influence of their genetics was more dominant than that of environmental factors. The results of the study, which were published last week in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, established that fussy eating habits share a common genetic etiology with food neophobia, or the intrinsic resistance to trying new foods at an early age.
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"Establishing a substantial genetic influence on both of these traits might be quite a relief to parents as they often feel judged or feel guilty for their children's fussy eating," says study co-author Andrea Smith. Smith points out that while fussiness—defined as selective tendencies towards the smell, texture, and taste of various foods—is often blamed on parenting styles, in reality it has more to do with a child's inherent traits.