UK researchers from the University College London have found that the children’s reluctance to trying new foods may not lie in the poor parental feeding practices but in the children’s gene.

The study conducted on both identical and fraternal twins showed that around 80% of children's tendency to avoid unfamiliar foods was inherited but that if parents wanted it to, they could make the foods more familiar to their children by frequently offering them with the foods.

Reluctance to trying new foods is called food neophobia.
In order to learn more about the role of inheritance and upbringing in food neophobia, researchers surveyed the parents of 5,390 twin pairs 8 to 11 years old. Studying twins enabled researchers to separate out the effects of genes and environment with identical twins sharing 100% of their genes, fraternal twins only about half while both types of twins have the same childhood home environment if brought up together.

Identical twins have been found to share tendencies toward food neophobia more than fraternal twins were with inheritance accounting for 78% of the tendencies. Shared environment was found to have no effect while the non-shared environmental factors accounted for 22 % of the tendencies.

The findings do not necessarily mean that parenting has nothing to do with these behaviors.

Laboratory research showed that parents could make a difference with repeated presentation. The more frequently the children were offered particular foods, the more likely were they to taste it and even come to like it. Highly neophobic children did need more attention and persuasion.