Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sweet Tooth, Personality Traits Diagnose Alcoholism

Date:
May 21, 1998
Source:
University Of North Carolina Medical Center
Summary:
A new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies offers compelling evidence that a strong preference for intense sweet taste combined with a particular personality profile can help diagnose alcoholism with great accuracy.

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- A new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies offers compelling evidence that a strong preference for intense sweet taste combined with a particular personality profile can help diagnose alcoholism with great accuracy.

Related Articles


The findings, published this week in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, also may pave the way for development of an easy-to- administer diagnostic test for determining the risk of developing alcoholism.

"So far, the combination of a 'sweet test' and a written survey called the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire which evaluates the levels of novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and reward dependence, allowed an accurate diagnosis of alcoholism in 85 percent of the subjects studied," says research fellow and study leader Dr. Alexey Kampov-Polevoy. "Actually, the word alcohol is never mentioned throughout this testing routine, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. No other diagnostic test for alcoholism shows such results."

The study extends previous UNC-CH work in animals and humans. Originally, in a study in rats, Kampov-Polevoy and his colleagues showed that the intake of sweet saccharin solutions could predict alcohol intake with extreme accuracy. Unlike rats that do not drink alcohol, rats with a genetic predisposition to high alcohol intake consume large amounts of sweet solutions (three times their normal fluid intake). Moreover, the alcohol-drinking rats preferred more concentrated sweet solutions than alcohol-avoiding rats. The latter finding was then replicated last year in humans. In a simple taste test, 65 percent of alcoholics said they preferred the most concentrated of five sugar solutions offered, which was three times sweeter than regular cola. Only 16 percent of the nonalcoholics showed a similar preference for the strongest solution while the others preferred much weaker sweet solutions.

Kampov-Polevoy says a strong liking for sweets alone is not enough to accurately indicate the presence of alcoholism. Only those sweet-liking individuals who have a certain personality profile are vulnerable to the development of alcoholism. In the new study, 52 men who had never been diagnosed with alcoholism and 26 recovering alcoholics took the sweet preference test and completed the TPQ. Sweet-liking alcoholics scored high on harm-avoidance and novelty-seeking, while sweet-liking nonalcoholics tended to score low on these traits. Neither group could be differentiated by their scores on reward dependence.

Says Kampov-Polevoy: "You may say that the sweet-liking alcoholic is a person who might love to sky dive but is afraid to go to the airplane." He explains that a major component of novelty seeking is "impulsivity," while depressive features and anxiety underlie harm avoidance. "It seems that the combination of a preference for the strong pleasurable stimuli [sweets] with impaired control of impulses puts that person in trouble," he says. "On the other hand, sweet-liking without high novelty-seeking may be a characteristic of the normal behavior. Probably this is why sweet-liking individuals from the control group scored on the novelty-seeking scale even below the average level."

Kampov-Polevoy says studies now under way provide some evidence that the "sweet test" may be used to determine a genetic risk of alcoholism. The researcher says these findings may lead to the development of an easy-to-administer diagnostic test for alcoholism risk. Such a test would provide the opportunity for early preventive intervention through education and behavior change. "Believe me, it is much easier to prevent alcoholism that to treat it," says Kampov-Polevoy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina Medical Center. "Sweet Tooth, Personality Traits Diagnose Alcoholism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980521080455.htm>.
University Of North Carolina Medical Center. (1998, May 21). Sweet Tooth, Personality Traits Diagnose Alcoholism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980521080455.htm
University Of North Carolina Medical Center. "Sweet Tooth, Personality Traits Diagnose Alcoholism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980521080455.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2015) Each week, millions of Americans take acetaminophen to dull minor aches and pains. Now researchers say it might blunt life&apos;s highs and lows, too. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins