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Children Have Greater Sweet Tooth With Family History of Alcoholism

Posted Feb 11 2010 12:00am

A new study suggests that a child’s sweet tooth may be a result of a family history of alcoholism. For many, sweets are a reward and make many feel good. However, certain groups of children may be especially attracted to intense sweetness due to their underlying biology. The new study included 300 children, aged 5 to 12, who were given tastes of five amounts of table sugar in water to determine their most preferred level of level of sweetness. The children were asked about the presence of, depressive symptoms and their mothers provided information on family alcohol use. About one-quarter of the children had depressive symptoms and 49 percent had a family history of alcoholism. The desire for intense sweetness was greatest in the percentage with both depressive symptoms and a family history of alcoholism. Among these children, their most preferred level of sweetness was 24 percent sucrose, equivalent to about 14 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of water and more than twice the sweetness of typical soda. This level of sweetness is one-third more intense than the 18 percent sucrose preferred by the other children. It has been found that sweet taste and alcohol activate many of the same reward circuits in the brain but it is not clear yet whether this will pre-determine one’s tendency towards alcoholism. More work needs to be done.

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