Research into human eating behavior is complex. Innate preferences for sweet and aversions to bitter tastes may explain why we choose certain foods. Some segments of the population, called “supertasters,” are more sensitive to bitter-tasting foods because of a genetic polymorphism. These individuals may reject bitter vegetables like broccoli, potentially putting them at risk for obesity and chronic disease. However, learned associations with food, including rewards, social experiences, and modeling, have also been shown to explain food choice. The respective roles of taste and learning in food choice are explored here in a classroom investigation designed for undergraduates.

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