People of European origin are more likely to gorge on junk food.
It has been discovered that people of European origin are more likely to have genes which urge them to gorge on fatty foods, beer and wine, than Asians according to scientists at Aberdeen University.
Dr Alasdair MacKenzie explained that the genes controlled the strength of a “switch” that helped determine appetite.
He said: “The switch controls the areas of the brain which allows us to select which foods we would like to eat and if it is turned on too strongly we are more likely to crave fatty foods and alcohol.”
He went on: “The fact that the weaker switch is found more frequently in Asians compared to Europeans suggests they are less inclined to select such options.”
Dr MacKenzie believed the fact that Europeans in the past had to survive through long cold winter by relying on brewed drinks and fat-rich foods, meant they became genetically predisposed through natural selection to like them.
He said: “These results give us a glimpse into early European life where brewing and dairy produce were important sources of calories during the winter months.
“Thus, a preference for food with a higher fat and alcohol content would have been important for survival.
“The negative effects of fat and alcohol we see today would not have mattered so much then as life expectancies were between 30 to 40 years.”
However, Dr MacKenzie said that those of Asian origin who moved to Western countries were not immune from obesity or heavy drinking habits, and that physiology was only a small part of the picture.
Galanin is a brain chemical called a neuropeptide, which previous research has identified as crucial to determining appetite for carbohydrate and fat-rich food.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmocology.
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