Child food neophobia is heritable, associated with less compliant eating, and moderates familial resemblance for BMI

Myles S. Faith, Moonseong Heo, Kathleen L. Keller, Angelo Pietrobelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Objective The heritability of food neophobia, the tendency to avoid new foods, was tested in 4-7-year-old twins. We also examined whether food neophobia is associated with parent-child feeding relations or child body fat. Design and Methods 66 same-sex twin pairs, including 37 monozygotic (MZ) and 29 dizygotic (DZ) pairs were studied. Food neophobia was assessed by parent questionnaire (Child Food Neophobia Scale, CFNS), as were child-feeding practices and "division of responsibility" feeding relations. Child anthropometry and percent body fat were directly measured. Results MZ and DZ twin pair correlations for food neophobia were r = 0.71 and r = -0.01, respectively: heritability= 72%. Greater food neophobia was associated with reduced child eating compliance of prompted foods (P < 0.001) reduced eating compliance of initially refused foods (P < 0.001), and - among girls only - fewer parental food demands (P = 0.01). Interestingly, the correlation between maternal BMI and child BMI z-score was significant only for children high (P = 0.03), but not low (P = 0.55), in food neophobia. Conclusion Child food neophobia, a highly heritable trait previously linked to emotionality, was associated with less compliant parent-child feeding relations. Strategies to combat food neophobia and foster more harmonious feeding relationships may have a role in obesity prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1650-1655
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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