Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Intense sweets taste especially good to some kids

Date:
February 11, 2010
Source:
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Summary:
Children's response to intense sweet taste is related to both a family history of alcoholism and the child's own self-reports of depression. The findings illustrate how liking for sweets differs among children based on underlying familial and biological factors.

New research from the Monell Center reports that children's response to intense sweet taste is related to both a family history of alcoholism and the child's own self-reports of depression.

Related Articles


The findings illustrate how liking for sweets differs among children based on underlying familial and biological factors.

"We know that sweet taste is rewarding to all kids and makes them feel good," said study lead author Julie A. Mennella, PhD, a developmental psychobiologist at Monell. "In addition, certain groups of children may be especially attracted to intense sweetness due to their underlying biology."

Because sweet taste and alcohol activate many of the same reward circuits in the brain, the researchers examined the sweet preferences of children with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. They also studied the influence of depression, hypothesizing that children with depressive symptoms might have a greater affinity for sweets because sweets make them feel better.

In the study, published online in the journal Addiction, 300 children between 5 and 12 years of age tasted five levels of sucrose (table sugar) in water to determine their most preferred level of sweetness. The children also were asked questions to assess the presence of depressive symptoms, while their mothers reported information on family alcohol use.

Nearly half (49 percent) of the children had a family history of alcoholism, based on having a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle who had received a diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Approximately one-quarter were classified as exhibiting depressive symptoms.

Liking for intense sweetness was greatest in the 37 children having both a positive family history of alcoholism and also reporting depressive symptoms. The most liked level of sweetness for these children was 24 percent sucrose, which is equivalent to about 14 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of water and more than twice the level of sweetness in a typical cola. This was one third more intense than the sweetness level preferred by the other children, which was 18 percent sucrose.

Mennella noted that the findings do not necessarily mean that there is a relationship between early sweet preferences and alcoholism later in life. "At this point, we don't know whether this higher 'bliss point' for sweets is a marker for later alcohol use," she said.

Previous studies have suggested that sweets may help to alleviate depressive symptoms in adults. In a similar vein, sweets are rewarding to children not only because they taste good, but also because they act as analgesics to reduce pain. Because of this, the study also examined the ability of sweet taste to reduce pain in the children by measuring the amount of time they could keep their hand submerged in a tub of cold water (10 C / 50 F) while holding either sucrose or water in their mouth.

The sucrose acted as an effective analgesic for the non-depressed children, who kept their hands in the cold water bath for 36 percent longer when holding sucrose in the mouth.

However, the researchers found that sucrose had no effect on the pain threshold of children reporting depressive symptoms. These children kept their hand in the cold water bath for the same amount of time regardless of whether they had water or sucrose in their mouths.

"It may be that even higher levels of sweetness are needed to make depressed children feel better," said Mennella.

Citing global initiatives to promote a healthier diet lower in refined sugars, Mennella notes that the current findings highlight the need for additional research to identify whether these clusters of children will require different strategies to help them reduce their intake of sweets.

M. Yanina Pepino, Sara Lehmann-Castor, and Lauren Yourshaw also contributed to the research, which was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monell Chemical Senses Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Monell Chemical Senses Center. "Intense sweets taste especially good to some kids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100210074950.htm>.
Monell Chemical Senses Center. (2010, February 11). Intense sweets taste especially good to some kids. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100210074950.htm
Monell Chemical Senses Center. "Intense sweets taste especially good to some kids." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100210074950.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

AFP (Jan. 29, 2015) Oxfam International has called for a multi-million dollar post-Ebola "Marshall Plan", with financial support given by wealthy countries, to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The World Health Organization announced the fight against Ebola has entered its second phase as the number of cases per week has steadily dropped. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) Officials say 66 students at a Southern California high school have been told to stay home through the end of next week because they may have been exposed to measles and are not vaccinated. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Group Encourages Black Moms to Breastfeed

Group Encourages Black Moms to Breastfeed

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) A grassroots effort is underway in several US cities to encourage more black women to breastfeed their babies by teaching them the benefits of the age-old practice, which is sometimes shunned in African-American communities. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
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