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Gender Differences in Taste and Food Habits: Implications for Personalized Nutrition
* 1 , 2 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1
1  Department of Human Sciences and Promotion of the Quality of Life, San Raffaele Roma Open University, 00166 Rome, Italy
2  Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi 0023351, Ghana
Academic Editor: Egeria Scoditti


Understanding the optimal diet for human health and its impact on the planet has been a subject of extensive research (Craig, 2022, Feiertag et al., 2023). In recent years, a consensus has emerged that a plant-based diet, rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds, offers significant health benefits and contributes to environmental sustainability (Willett et al., 2019; Springmann et al., 2018). This dietary pattern has been linked to the prevention and management of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Furthermore, adopting plant-based eating habits can help mitigate the environmental impact of food production by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving natural resources (Jeyakumar et al., 2021). However, despite the availability of well-defined dietary guidelines, the long-term adherence and effectiveness of nutritional therapies remain challenging (Sacks et al., 2021; Ash et al., 2019). Individual variability in response to dietary interventions necessitates a personalized approach to nutrition, considering factors such as genetics, metabolism, and lifestyle. Within the realm of personalized nutrition, exploring gender differences in taste preferences and food habits holds significant potential for tailoring dietary recommendations to improve compliance and achieve desirable health outcomes.

The study sample consisted of 2,021 subjects (1,276 females and 745 males) enrolled in a weight-loss intervention at an obesity center in Rome, Italy. Exclusion criteria included age below 12 years or above 75 years, pregnancy or nursing, body mass index (BMI) below 18.5 kg/m² or above 40 kg/m², and any previous lifestyle treatment. Eating behaviours were assessed using a questionnaire composed of 12 questions concerning food habits, 17 concerning food taste, and four about healthy eating.

Results revealed significant gender-specific differences in dietary habits and taste preferences. Women showed a higher preference for whole grain foods, cereals such as barley, cooked vegetables, and liked salty foods more than sweet foods. On the other hand, men had lower consumption of eggs, meat, and processed meat. Women consumed more water, sugar-sweetened beverages, and alcoholic drinks compared to men. Men exhibited faster eating habits, more nighttime eating, and poorer sleep quality. Additionally, women reported missing more meals and experiencing more uncontrollable eating episodes. Men tended to eat out more frequently and had a tendency to be hungrier later in the day.

These findings emphasize the need for gender-specific approaches to promote a healthy lifestyle. Tailored programs considering the distinct dietary habits, taste preferences, and eating behaviors of men and women could prove more effective in supporting individuals in achieving their health and wellness goals. Furthermore, the study highlights the influence of societal perceptions, such as body weight ideals, on nutritional behavior and underscores the importance of considering social factors in understanding and addressing gender-related differences in eating behavior. Integrating the knowledge obtained from nutriomics approaches with the investigation of gender differences in taste and food habits offers a holistic understanding of the complex interactions between genetics, diet, and gender-specific responses. Such insights can inform the design of precision nutrition strategies that account for individual variations in taste preferences, nutrient metabolism, and genetic profiles, thereby enhancing the effectiveness and long-term adherence of personalized nutrition interventions.


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Keywords: gender differences; taste; food habits; nutriomics; precision nutrition; personalized nutrition; dietary preferences; dietary behaviors; precision nutrition strategies; personalized dietary recommendations.