Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 241–252

Genetic and environmental influences on nutrient intake

  • Jianghong Liu
  • Catherine Tuvblad
  • Adrian Raine
  • Laura Baker
Research Paper


The relationship between genetic and the environment represents a pathway to better understand individual variations in nutrition intake and food preferences. However, the present literature is weakened somewhat by methodological flaws (e.g., overreliance on self-report questionnaires), discrepancies in statistical approaches, and inconsistent findings. Little research on this topic to date has included examination of micronutrient intake. The purpose of this study is to improve the existing literature on genetic and environmental influences on energy and nutrient intake by addressing these gaps. Twin pairs (N = 358; age 11–13 years) provided 3-day food intake diaries, which were assessed for intake of total energy, macronutrients, and micronutrients. Structural equation modeling revealed that genetic influences accounted for a significant portion of the total variance in total energy (48 %), macronutrients (35–45 %), minerals (45 %), and vitamins (21 %). Consistent with previous studies, the shared environment appeared to contribute little to nutritional intake. Findings on vitamin and mineral intake are novel and are particularly beneficial for further research on the contribution of micronutrients to individual physical health status. Better understanding of the linkage between genes, environment, and nutritional intake and deficiencies can clarify behavioral and physical outcomes, potentially informing risk reduction, primary prevention, and intervention strategies.


Twin Genes Nutrient Diet Heritability Environment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianghong Liu
    • 1
  • Catherine Tuvblad
    • 2
  • Adrian Raine
    • 3
  • Laura Baker
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty, School of Nursing and School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and PsychologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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