Liking sweets makes sense for kids

Mar 18, 2009

As any parent knows, children love sweet-tasting foods. Now, new research from the University of Washington and the Monell Center indicates that this heightened liking for sweetness has a biological basis and is related to children's high growth rate.

"The relationship between and growth makes because when growth is rapid, caloric demands increase. are programmed to like because it fills a biological need by pushing them towards energy sources," said Monell geneticist Danielle Reed, PhD, one of the study authors.

Across cultures, children prefer higher levels of sweetness in their foods as compared to adults, a pattern that declines during adolescence. To explore the biological underpinnings of this shift, Reed and University of Washington researcher Susan Coldwell, PhD, looked at sweet preference and biological measures of growth and physical maturation in 143 children between the ages of 11 and 15.

The findings, reported in the journal & Behavior, suggest that children's heightened liking for sweet taste is related to their high growth rate and that sweet preferences decline as children's physical growth slows and eventually stops.

Based on the results of sensory taste tests, children were classified according to their sweet taste preference into a 'high preference' or 'low preference' group. Children in the 'low preference' group also had lower levels of a biomarker (type I collagen cross-linked N-teleopeptides; NTx) associated with bone growth in children and .

"This gives us the first link between sweet preference and biological need," said Reed. "When markers of bone growth decline as children age, so does their preference for highly sweet solutions."

Other biological factors associated with adolescence, such as puberty or sex hormone levels, were not associated with sweet preference.

"We now know that sweet preference is related to physical growth. The next step is to identify the growth-related factor that is signaling the brain to influence sweet preference," said study lead author Coldwell, Washington Dental Service Endowed Professor and Associate Professor of Dental Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

Source: Monell Chemical Senses Center

Explore further: Some people may be pre-wired to be bilingual

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Brain's 'sixth sense' for calories discovered

Mar 26, 2008

The brain can sense the calories in food, independent of the taste mechanism, researchers have found in studies with mice. Their finding that the brain’s reward system is switched on by this “sixth sense” machinery ...

Helping the medicine go down

Aug 21, 2008

Getting little Doug and Debbie to take a spoonful of medicine is more than just a rite of passage for frustrated parents. Children's refusal to swallow liquid medication — and their tendency to vomit it ...

Why do we prefer some foods over others?

Jan 25, 2007

When your stomach grumbles at lunchtime, and it's your turn at the deli counter, what will it be? Wheat bread or rye bread? Turkey or pastrami? Mayonnaise or mustard? Hold the pickle!

Recommended for you

Some people may be pre-wired to be bilingual

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Some people's brains seem pre-wired to acquire a second language, new research suggests. But anyone who tries to move beyond their mother tongue will likely gain a brain boost, the small study ...

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

12 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

15 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

16 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.