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Kids’ Growth Rate a Driver for Sweet Preference?

Posted: March 19, 2009

New research from the University of Washington and the Monell Center indicates that children's heightened liking for sweetness has a biological basis and is related to their high growth rate.

The research included a study of sweet preference and biological measures of growth and physical maturation in 143 children between the ages of 11 and 15. 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. Findings suggested that 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 adolescents. It further revealed that sweet preferences decline as children´s physical growth slows and eventually stops.

Of the findings, Danielle Reed, one of the study authors and a Monell geneticist said, “The relationship between sweet preference and growth makes intuitive sense because when growth is rapid, caloric demands increase.” The next step, according to lead author and Washington Dental Service endowed professor, Susan Coldwell, would be to identify the growth-related factor that is signaling the brain to influence sweet preference.