Food neophobia is the condition where a person refuses to taste and eat unfamiliar foods. As a result, the quality of the diet can drop and lead to chronic diseases.
The research team followed a group Finns and Estonians aged 25 to 74 years. First observation: food neophobia has a strongly hereditary character (78% of cases). Second, the consumption of fiber, protein and fatty acids is generally too low for neophobic people, while the consumption of saturated fats and salt is above average.
In addition, a significant association has been established between food neophobia and an increased level of inflammatory markers in the blood. It is often thought that the effects of eating behavior and diet on health are primarily related to changes in weight alone. In this study, however, the impacts of food neophobia have emerged regardless of weight, age, socioeconomic status, gender or place of residence.
“Our findings reinforce the idea that a varied diet plays a key role in our health. If we could cure deviant eating behaviors, such as neophobia, from childhood or youth, this would help prevent potential health problems,” says Markus Perola, research professor at the National Institute of Health and Welfare.
Food neophobia strikes especially children from 2 to 10 years old. However, it can also affect adults and especially the elderly. To correct this behavioral disorder, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is generally used. This approach works on exposing patients to new foods, on their perception, providing nutritional advice and gradually incorporating a large number of new food products.