Can food neophobia increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity? Chief surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala explains

Food neophobia is a type of eating disorder that is defined by the fear of eating new or unfamiliar foods. Can it affect obesity and Type 2 Diabetes? Chief surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala explains
Can food neophobia increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity? Chief surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala explainsCan food neophobia increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity? Chief surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala explains
  • 0
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Share on whatsapp

Neophobia typically refers to the fear of anything new and food neophobia is a type of eating disorder that is defined by the fear of eating new or unfamiliar foods.

There are many causes of neophobia. It can be genetic - children of the mothers who are neophobic are more likely to develop the disorder. Neophobia can also be psychological resulting from a traumatic event during childhood like choking on food and has also been linked to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Individuals with ASD have restricted interests and this includes food as well, hence they are not open to trying out new foods.

Food neophobia to some extent is a normal occurrence during growing years and tends to wean off by the age of seven as the child gets exposed to more variety of foods. 

People with food neophobia tend to avoid social interactions because of the fear of being forced to eat foods that they are not familiar with. These situations tend to make them highly uncomfortable and cause them stress and anxiety and in the long term, can also affect their interpersonal relationships. 

A recent 7-year Finnish study found a positive correlation between food neophobia and insulin resistance, inflammatory markers, and Type 2 Diabetes. A negative correlation was found between food neophobia and omega 3 fatty acid profile and the quality of diet. Another interesting finding of this study was that all of the above factors were not influenced by weight, which makes it all the more clear that food neophobia is an independent factor for developing noncommunicable diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and coronary heart disease.

Those that have food neophobia have a very limited choice of foods and hence their diet is deficient in fibre, good fats, and protein and on the other hand tend to be higher in saturated fats, sugars, and salt. It is a well-known fact that diets high in saturated fats, low on good fats and fibre are precursors to non-communicable diseases. 

Several studies have shown that introducing a variety of foods to children from the age of 2 years dramatically reduces their food neophobia scores. Similarly, those infants that have been breastfed are also more tolerant towards a larger variety of foods as they were exposed to various flavours during the lactation phase. In addition, those infants that were introduced to different vegetables during the weaning phase were also more accepting of a larger variety of foods as compared to those that we introduced to only specific vegetables. 

This just goes to show that food preferences, taste, and tolerances start developing from infancy and thus it is imperative for parents to expose their infants to different flavours, textures, and foods right from the time they are weaned off breast milk to inculcate a more tolerant and healthy relationship with food. 

For those adults that are suffering from food neophobia, cognitive behaviour therapy can help along with a lot of support from family and friends to help nurture a positive response to food. Though food neophobia may not be as dangerous as other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms at an early age in order to prevent chronic diseases later in life.

- By Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala, Founder & Chief Surgeon at Digestive Health Institute by Dr. Muffi

"Stay in sync with the latest and hottest" & "SUBSCRIBE TO PINKVILLA"

Add new comment

Pinkvilla has updated its Privacy and Cookie policy. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and show you Personalized advertisement.

Options