Why do children prefer sweeter foods?

As we get older, we tend to lose our sweet tooth and become more tolerant to bitter foods, like vegetables. However, I never understood how this works. Why is it that children prefer sweeter foods, even some that adults may consider "too sweet"? In fact, is there any reason they would also dislike bitter foods, even when they can be beneficial to their health?

This just seems bizarre to me that the body would start out craving sweets and lose this later on. Are only humans like this? Is there anything suggesting that younger animals prefer sweet foods too, but like them less as they get older? Does this have any biological advantage or is it just random?

@Colombo explains one reason that I think is obvious. However, there has been some research done on this.

One other reason is because it would provide an evolutionary advantage in environments where calories are scarce. Also, sugar actually acts like a pain reliever. Studies show that giving sugar to babies and children during surgery act like a pain reliever.

The sweet tooth could be controlled by hormones secreted from the growing bones. Some common hormones like insulin also affect sensory centers in the brain. This explains why the sweet tooth goes away as an adult.



Hearing the familiar jingle of an ice cream truck in the heat of summer may not be the only reason kids constantly crave sweet treats.

Children don't just like sugar — they are biologically hard-wired to eat it, according to scientist Julie Mennella, a researcher with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

"During periods of growth, they're attracted to foods that give us calories. In the past, it was fruits: dates, honey," she said. "Now children are living in environments where sugar's everywhere."

Children have "a very exquisite biology that attracts them to the predominant taste quality of mother's milk, and then to high-calorie foods during periods of growth," she added.

Mennella spoke to NBC Nightly News for a two-part series on sugar consumption in the United States. In response to the food and beverage industry being villianized for making sugar too prevalent in our diets, the Food and Drug Administration last month proposed a rule that would require food labels to say not just how much sugar is in a product, but what percentage of the daily recommended intake it comprises.

Sugar consumption has been linked to health issues by numerous studies, in a country where 28 percent of Americans are clinically obese. Nearly 30 percent of children and teenagers in the U.S. are obese or overweight — up from 19 percent 35 years ago.

The industry argues that calories coming from sugar don't contribute to obesity any more than calories from other sources.

"The scientific evidence just doesn't indicate that sugar, or any nutrient, is addictive," the Sugar Association has said. "Targeting of all natural sugar is an oversimplified approach to the complex problem of obesity that is simply not backed by sound science."

It added on Wednesday in a statement to NBC News, "It’s common knowledge that babies are born with an innate liking of sweet that lessens over time. Scientists that study human senses, such as taste, say that one of the reasons children have a tendency to like sweet foods is because its nature’s way of letting us know a food is safe to eat. Sugar can also play a positive role in the quality of a child’s diet, as confirmed recently by The American Academy of Pediatrics, since sugar improves the taste of many nutritious foods."

At Menella's lab, kids sample different sugar solutions so scientists can get an idea of just how much sweetness they prefer. Philadelphia resident Jessica Mersky recently brought her daughter Sasha, 5, to participate in the research. Sasha picked the solution that was the sweetness equivalent of a can of soda — plus 11 extra teaspoons of extra sugar.

"It's super, super sweet," Sasha said, adding that she would happily drink an entire glass of the syrupy concoction.

Similar studies are being done at Yale University, where researchers examine the effects of sugar on children's brains.

Thirteen-year-old Emma Severance took part in a study there on what happens to the brain on milkshakes: After a swig of a shake, Emma underwent an MRI. The researchers watched as parts of her brain became active.

But sugar doesn't just affect young people. How much a person's brain lights up after consuming something sugary could be an indicator of a bigger problem, the researchers say.

"We think that the greater response in these regions might be a risk factor for overeating," said Dr. Barkha Patel, a Yale postdoctoral fellow.

Just the thought of food activates the brain, said Dr. David Katz with the Yale Prevention Research Center.

"It even lights up in anticipation of food when we're hungry. There's pleasure in thinking about eating," he said.

In its statement to NBC News, the Sugar Association said, "Overeating is a real and serious problem for some adults and children but the scientific evidence does not support the cause as a physiological addiction to food. Chemicals in the brain naturally respond with all pleasurable experiences, including when we are eating foods we like. The brain’s response to food is just one of the many complex internal systems in the human body that regulates food intake. These facts undermine the validity of relying solely on brain activity as evidence that food is addictive or the cause of overeating."

Mersky doesn't need any scientific studies to know how sugar affects her kids. When Sasha and her brother eat sweets, the resulting sugar high is obvious.

"Hyper," Mersky said of how the kids act. "A little crazy, little hyper. And then I notice the crash more so than the hyperactivity."

Elizabeth Chuck is a reporter for NBC News who focuses on health and mental health, particularly issues that affect women and children.

Unhealthy food preferences

There are reasons why many children are often willing to eat unhealthy 'junk' foods but less keen to eat healthy foods.

In recent years, increasing numbers of adults and children have developed health problems related to an unhealthy diet. A key recommendation is the Government's message that all children and adults should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. However, recent research has found that an alarmingly small number of children actually achieve this.

Instead, what a lot of parents and professionals are finding is that children will willing eat unhealthy foods (crisps, biscuits, sweets, bread, cake etc) but are less willing to eat healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables.

Eating an unhealthy diet puts children (and adults) at a greater risk of developing health problems or becoming overweight or obese.

Why are unhealthy food preferences a problem?

Children are born with a tendency to prefer sweet tastes and to dislike bitter tastes. Since many vegetables taste bitter, this is why they are often less popular.

The reason for the dislike of bitter tastes appears to be related to our deep-rooted tendency to be wary of foods that are not fresh. Humans seem to have an innate sense that sweet tastes indicate freshness and sour or bitter tastes indicate that a food is going bad.

Rejection of bitter tasting vegetables is a normal developmental response.

While it is normal for a child to reject foods like vegetables, this does not mean that this rejection should be accepted or ignored. It is important to support children in the learning process that is required to make these foods part of their diet. This has become much harder to achieve given the increase in attractive, yet unhealthy alternatives many of which are targeted directly at children. This is worrying since an unhealthy diet in childhood is associated with a number of serious health problems including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer.

While some children who consume a very poor diet may remain a healthy weight, or even be underweight, a large proportion of children will be overweight or obese. Carrying too much or too little weight is associated with a number of significant negative social, psychological, and physiological effects.

What can I do to help children eat more healthily?

A healthy diet in childhood provides the foundation for good health in later life. We should all aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The best way to help to shape children's flavour preferences and establish a healthy diet is to expose them to a wide variety of healthy foods from an early age, and remove unhealthy foods and drinks from their environment. This might require a change in your usual routine, what you buy, and what foods you cook or eat yourself, but the benefits to your child's health will be well worth it.

Things to try

It is never too late to make changes to increase the quality of your family's diet, nor is it ever too early to educate your child on healthy eating.

    Healthy food is normal food
    Healthy eating should be the norm. If your child is not familiar with healthy foods, then they are less likely to eat them. Make sure that you expose your child to healthy foods, not just at mealtimes but in a variety of different ways. See the food refusal pitfall section for more information.

The Child Feeding Guide is underpinned by internationally respected expertise from Loughborough and Aston Universities in the UK. Our research looks at various aspects of children's eating behaviour and parenting at mealtimes.

Our work is part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, the Olympic Legacy initiative which aims to apply world-class expertise to policies and practice that will benefit the health and wellbeing of the nation.

Children's Taste Sensitivity And Food Choices Influenced By Taste Gene

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Variation in a taste receptor gene influences taste sensitivity of children and adults, accounting for individual differences in taste preferences and food selection, report a team of researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center. In addition to genes, age and culture also contribute to taste preferences, at times overriding the influence of genetics.

The findings may help to explain why some children are more attracted to sweet-tasting foods, as well as why taste and food preferences appear to change with age.

"The sense of taste is an important determinant of what children eat. We know that young children eat what they like. We also know that many children do not like bitter taste, thereby interfering with vegetable consumption and potentially limiting intake of important nutrients," comments lead author Julie Mennella, PhD, a developmental psychobiologist. "The recent Nobel Prize award demonstrates the importance of the identification of genes coding for taste and olfactory receptors. We took advantage of this new knowledge to look at how variation in taste genes might relate to the taste likes and dislikes of children and parents."

In the study, to be published in the February 2005 issue of Pediatrics, researchers compared taste sensitivity and food-related behaviors across three genotypes of the TAS2R38 gene, which encodes a taste receptor responsive to bitter taste.

Using cheek swabs to obtain genetic samples, researchers classified 143 children and their mothers into three groups based on their TAS2R38 genotype: Type AA had two bitter-insensitive sites (alleles), type PP had two bitter-sensitive alleles, and type AP had one of each.

To provide a behavioral measure of sensitivity to bitter taste, children &ndash who were between 5 and 10 years of age - and mothers categorized three concentrations of a bitter-tasting compound (propylthiouracil PROP) as tasting either "like water" or "bitter or yucky."

Having a bitter-sensitive allele (P) on the TAS2R38 receptor gene predicted sensitivity to the bitter taste of PROP in both children and mothers. While 70% of children and 50% of mothers with either AP or PP alleles detected bitterness in the weakest PROP solution, the same solution tasted bitter to only a few individuals with two bitter-insensitive alleles (AA).

Children and adults with two bitter-sensitive alleles (PP) were more sensitive to bitter taste than those with just one (AP).

Genetic influences on bitter taste sensitivity were in some cases modified by age. In individuals with the mixed AP genotype, children were more sensitive to bitter than adults, with 64% of children but only 43% of adults able to detect bitterness in the weakest PROP solution.

"This type of information will one day help to improve the diets of our children by allowing us to devise better strategies to enhance fruit and vegetable acceptance in children who are sensitive to bitter taste," comments Mennella. "It may be that childhood represents a time of heightened bitter taste sensitivity in some children, which lessens with age. Such a scenario would account for the increase of vegetable consumption that often occurs as children mature into adulthood. This is definitely an area that merits more research."

The bitter receptor genotype also predicted children's sweet preference, along with their preference for sweet-tasting beverages and foods. Children with a bitter-sensitive allele (PP or AP) preferred higher concentrations of sucrose solutions than did bitter-insensitive (AA) children, and were more likely to identify carbonated drinks as a preferred beverage. They also were less likely to name milk or water as one of their two favorite beverages. Favorite cereals and beverages of PP children had higher sugar content than corresponding selections of AA children.

According to study co-author, geneticist Danielle Reed, PhD, "The children most sensitive to PROP liked sweet more, but the reason for this relationship is not known. This difference could be due to taste receptor biology or it could be because those who are most bitter sensitive use more sugar to mask unpleasant tastes in food, and thus come to prefer it more. Whatever the explanation, this is an important puzzle to solve."

Unlike children, bitter receptor genotype did not influence sweet preference in adults. Instead, effects of race/ethnicity were the strongest determinants. Mennella comments, "What I find most interesting is that you do not see the relationship between bitter taste receptor genotype and sweet preference in adults. The forces of experience and culture appear to have overridden the genetic effect."

Some mothers and their children may live in different sensory worlds due to differences of taste sensitivity related to genes, age, or both. Such differences influenced interactions between mothers and children: mothers insensitive to bitter taste perceived bitter-sensitive children as being more emotional than bitter-insensitive children. "This knowledge may bring relief to parents who learn that their children reject foods that they themselves like because of inborn differences in taste ability, rather than rebelliousness or defiance of authority," explains Reed.

The research continues and extends Monell's long-term research program exploring development of taste and flavor preferences during childhood, a critical time for learning about food. Mennella comments, "Our previous studies focused on how early experience influences preferences for foods and flavors. Now, we have a tool to look at how experience and genetics interact in determining why we like the foods we do."

Monell researcher M. Yanina Pepino also contributed to the study.

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is a nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, PA. Scientists at the Monell Center conduct research devoted to understanding the senses of taste, smell, and chemical irritation: how they function and how they affect our lives, from before birth through old age. The Center's approach is multidisciplinary. Scientists from a variety of backgrounds collaborate to address topic areas in sensation and perception, neuroscience and molecular biology, environmental and occupational health, nutrition and appetite, health and well being, and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit the Center's web site at

Citation: Julie A. Mennella, M. Yanina Pepino, and Danielle R. Reed. Genetic and environmental determinants of bitter perception and sweet preferences. Pediatrics, 2005, 115 (2), e216-e222.

Funding: NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Story Source:

Materials provided by Monell Chemical Senses Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Adulthood: sophisticated but set in our ways

Maturity brings more grown up (and healthier) eating habits, with an appreciation of robust flavours like game, sour cheese and anchovies. However, whether or not this is a sign of a sophisticated palate is moot. Some argue that because our tasting senses dull with age (especially if we smoke or scald our tongues often), we are simply more tolerant of pungency.

And as we mature, it becomes harder to welcome new tastes. "There's a phenomenon in nutrition we call programming," says Moghadasian, "which is a nervous-system issue to do with how we perceive food. If you get used to specific types of food or drink when young, then your brain will be programmed to accept the flavours, colours and other features of these foods." But with age, the brain's capacity to be trained and retain information becomes less efficient. If immigrants are over 35 or 40, he says, they will usually stick to their traditional cuisine, whereas children will adapt to the local food.

3 Biological Reasons Children Crave Carbs (And Why It's Not Such a Bad Thing)

You serve dinner with all the food groups and your kids first reach for the pasta, bread, rice, tortillas or whatever carb source you have on the table. After a while, you remind them of the other food on their table or plate. Maybe you get so frustrated you simply instruct them to eat some protein or veggies.

Believe it or not, a child's preference for carbs is a key barrier to raising them to have a healthy relationship with food. Not because children enjoy carbs but because parents don't always understand the why behind their preferences, and may end up drawing the wrong conclusions.

Research reveals some interesting facts about why kids eat the way they do that every parent needs to know. These three facts in particular, can help you understand why most kids are naturally drawn to the starchy and sweet stuff.

1. Carbs Signal Safe Energy

The most common explanation for children preferring sweet over bitter is that it signals a safe source of energy. According to this review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

A sweet taste in nature indicates energy, which is needed for optimal growth and development. Therefore, it would seem safe for the young to consume foods with a sweet taste. Breast milk is also sweet, and this would confirm the link between a sweet taste and safe energy.

The preference for sweetness seems to change with age according to research. In one study, school age children (9-10 years), adolescents (14-16 years) and adults (20-25 years) were given a taste test with different sucrose concentrations. The school age children preferred the higher sweet concentrations than the adolescents but the adolescents preferred higher sweet intensities than the adults. This is consistent with other studies that show that sweet preferences decline when growth is complete.

2.Carbs are Brain Food

Researchers from Northwester University set out to determine the energy costs of the brain from birth to adulthood. Using MRI and PET data, they discovered that glucose uptake by the brain doesn't peak at birth as previously thought, but during the slow period of growth between toddlerhood and puberty. During this time the metabolic needs shift from growth of the body to metabolic needs of the brain. For example, at birth 35.4-38.7% of daily energy requirements go to brain-glucose uptake but this climbs to 43.3-43.8 during childhood.

The researchers believe that this period of delayed growth in childhood evolved so the unique human brain can fully develop, not so much in size but in key processes like synaptic growth. In order to do this, the brain relies heavily on glucose, which is why a child's brain uses twice as much glucose as an adults brain does. Brain glucose requirements peak at about five years of age (almost half of daily energy intake goes to the brain!), years before adult brain size is reached.

This adds additional evidence as to why preschoolers and young school-age children are drawn to starchy carbs like bread and crackers that readily provide glucose to the developing brain.

3. Carbs Play a Key Role in Growth

Children were given sweet drinks and then categorized into high sweet preference and low preference. These two groups did not differ in by age, body weight, stage of puberty, height or gender. Where they did differ is a measurement referred to NTx, a marker of bone growth that can be detected in urine. The results showed that the children that were still growing showed a heightened preference for sweets compared to those who had stopped growing (around 15-16).

The lead researcher of the study, Nancy Coldwell, was interviewed on NPR:

Exactly how this all works is still somewhat of a mystery, but Coldwell says that one important clue lies in the discovery that growing bones actually secrete hormones that can influence metabolism. Other well-known metabolic hormones like leptin and insulin have been shown to act on brain areas that control cravings and appetites, and even directly bind to the tongue, where they affect the preference for sweet tastes. Coldwell suspects that hormones from growing bones may be doing the same thing. In other words, it's not your kid's fault he raided the cookie jar - the hormones from his growing bones made him do it.

"I don't know for sure, but I am very suspicious that the bones are somehow telling either the brain or the tongue that there is energy needed for their growth and signaling for that preference to increase," says Coldwell.

This may explain why kids on low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets for seizures don't grow as well as children on regular diets even when calorie intakes are similar.

How This Information Helps

Understanding carbohydrates play an important role in growth can be helpful, and even a relief, for some parents. Instead of assuming a child is addicted to carbs, we can understand their natural biological drive to eat them.

What can you do? Aim for that middle ground. If you restrict too much, it can result in what researchers call eating in "the absence of hunger." And when these cravings naturally decrease with age, those that were restricted may keep eating because they can instead of listening to their body. But if you allow kids free reign with food choices, their diet will be imbalanced, often too high in sugar and refined carbs.

Instead, set the eating schedule and offer a good share of quality carbs like fruits, whole grains, dairy and beans while offering sweets in a reasonable manner. Vary the food from meal to meal, but don't interfere with the choices children make from what you offer (see Satter Division of Responsibility for more on this).

The real key is understanding why eating preferences look different for kids than it does for adults. This knowledge helps you stay consistent and prevents you from falling into the feeding traps that makes for a tense table, and negatively affects a child's relationships with food and enjoyment of eating.

This post originally appeared on Maryann's blog, Raise Healthy Eaters.

Having trouble cooking one meal for the whole family? My latest book, What to Cook for Dinner with Kids, shows you how.

Kids love sugar

Although some of us outgrow our love of sugar&mdashperhaps as our desire for it becomes outweighed by our desire to avoid the post-sugar haze or crash&mdashyou would be hard-pressed to find a child who doesn&rsquot have a sweet tooth. But let's stop a moment before we blame their parents for letting them indulge. Studies have shown that the love children have for sugar may be innate. In other words, kids may have a built-in love of all things sweet.

The preference for sweet foods is found to be already evident in newborns, who prefer sweeter formulas. It also seems to be shared by children globally across cultures and climates. There's further evidence that kids&rsquo taste buds are more sensitive to bitter-tasting foods, further pushing them to reach for the sweets.

One study showed that adults tend to max out their sugar preference at about the level of sugar in a can of soda, but older children still liked drinks that were twice as sweet. The scientists couldn&rsquot find a limit to the concentration of sugar younger children preferred. It turns out that the kids still liked the sugary drink even past the point where there was too much sugar to be dissolved in water anymore.

Candy Ain’t Dandy

Giving candy to them, on the other hand, is as bad as giving them poison (more on this later) or drugs (ditto). Last but not least, candy is a direct route to the dentist.

Let’s begin with examining what the experts have to say.

Sherry Coleman-Collins, a registered dietitian, says the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 2-18 consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar daily, which excludes the naturally-occurring sugars found in fruit or milk. Children under two, says Coleman-Collins, should avoid added sugar altogether. “It’s easy to get six teaspoons of added sugar, even without eating candy since it’s added to crackers, bread and pasta sauces, just to name a few common foods,” says Coleman-Collins.

Okay, you’re thinking. But what is sugar going to do to my child’s body? Is it really that bad? Will the occasional sweet treat damage my child for life? Will eating gummy bears set up some sort of vicious cycle that cannot be broken?

So here’s the thing: you already know that candy causes tooth decay. You most likely know that eating more sugar has led to increasing rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. But did you know that eating lots of sugary foods can actually change your child’s perception of how food tastes?

It’s true. Eat too much candy and soda and an apple or a banana will no longer taste sweet at all. The next time your child wants something sweet, fruit isn’t going to cut it. That child is going to want more candy to slake his sweet tooth.

This being the case, how should a parent handle a child begging for soda and sweets? “Instead of saying, ‘No, you cannot have a soda,’ you might tell a young child, ‘We drink water because it’s really good for our bodies and it doesn’t have a lot of extra chemicals in it,’ says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a parenting coach. “‘Chemicals are not so good for us. It’s okay to have them sometimes, but we don’t want to make it a habit, because we want to make healthy choices, right?’

“Or perhaps you set an expectation that sweets come after healthy food. So you might say, ‘Yeah, that candy looks really yummy, and I can see how you want that right now. But we have dinner in a little while and we really need to make sure that we are eating foods that are good for our bodies and our health before we eat the candy,'” says Taylor-Klaus.

Parents who give children sweets within limits after eating a healthy meal will generally have to continue that conversation about healthy eating for the long term. Once kids have candy, you see, they’re going to want more candy. And that’s not just about perceptions or taste buds. When your child eats candy, a certain part of his brain lights up—the same part of the brain that’s activated by cocaine addiction.

So do you give your child, “in moderation,” something his brain treats as an addictive substance? “The truth is that children don’t need candy at all, since it provides no nutritional value,” says Coleman-Collins.

Adina Pearson, a registered dietitian who works with families, doesn’t disagree, but suggests that nature predisposes children to want candy. “Kids are naturally drawn to sweet flavors—even breast milk is sweet. And there is research that suggests that this affinity for sweets stays strong until lineal growth is complete. So there’s a likely biological basis to help kids get enough calories.”

Coleman-Collins says those necessary calories can come from other foods, “There are lots of other sweet treats that have some positives without the side effect of empty calories and increased risk of cavities. All that said, I’m not militant about candy with my own child and don’t suggest that my clients be either. The occasional candy treat is just fine in the context of an overall super nutritious diet.”

Taylor-Klaus believes that just as parents talk about the effects of sugar on the body, so too, they can and should talk to even very young children about the effects of sugar on the brain. Parents can explain things in simple terms: “‘Did you know that candy can actually make you not want to eat healthy food? It’s sad, but true. So let’s wait on the candy until after you’re body has gotten all the good stuff it needs, first — what do you think?’ If the child says s/he is hungry, you might add, ‘Well, it’s funny, but just thinking about candy can actually make your brain start really wanting something sweet. What if we have a piece of fruit to help your brain and body feel good until dinner?'”

Pushing off sweets until after healthy foods have been consumed and allowing sweets in moderation seems sound in theory, but did you know that sugar can harm your child’s metabolism? It appears that when kids eat sugar, their bodies stop responding to satiety cues. That means they no longer know when they’re full. Which means they’ll keep eating—which can lead to metabolic syndrome: a whole slew of disorders (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and belly fat) that occur at the same time. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk for such health issues such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Then there’s the fact that your child’s diet, good or bad, paves the way for the state of his dental health, both now and in the future. Children don’t know enough to brush and floss every time they eat sweets. The end result of unlimited or unregulated candy consumption is bound to be decay and damage to the teeth.

If parents, on the other hand, give children candy in moderation and follow this by always making sure children brush and floss eating sweets, children may just learn to associate candy consumption with cleaning their teeth. “Once the candy is eaten, it should be followed by good oral hygiene including two minutes of tooth brushing to avoid cavities. Ideally, this would happen within 30 minutes of consuming the candy to avoid the detrimental effects of sugar on the teeth,” says Dr. Seth Newman, an orthodontist.

Of course, it’s not going to be easy keeping your child’s candy habit as “moderate” as the experts suggest, because of marketing. The food industry purposely targets children and teens to the tune of $2 billion every year. There’s no doubt that much of that marketing is dedicated to plugging sweets. Children are suggestible. If they see a beloved cartoon character telling them to buy lollypops, they’re going to want to obey that command. They’re going to beg you to buy that product for them. It’s not fair and it’s not right. It’s business.

It also bears mentioning that the number one choking hazard for small children is—you guessed it—hard candy. And choking is the fourth leading cause of death in children under five. You wouldn’t think a four year-old would choke on a candy or lollypop. You’d think that child was old enough to be in control of things. You’d be wrong.

Now you know what candy can do to your child. Candy is bad, clearly. As bad as it is, however, you know that forbidding your child candy is liable to make him sneak it. “When we make something ‘forbidden’ from our kids, it tends to give it more power than it would have if we treat it matter-of-factly,” says Taylor-Klaus. “Candy is a terrific example. When we take a moderate approach to candy and sweets, we can teach our children about healthy eating and how our body works. Ultimately, we want to help them practice decision-making when they are younger, and learn how to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older.”

Dr. Newman agrees, “We all remember those children growing up who were not allowed to have any candy. Studies have shown that complete deprivation of sweets or other desirable foods only makes them more appealing to children. Excess candy consumption could lead to weight gain and dental cavities”

Probably the most we can do as parents is to educate our children. We can teach them to eat healthy food and help them understand that candy can hurt their bodies. We can teach them to brush their teeth after treats and impart good dental hygiene habits. Most of all, we can educate children to understand that if they’re going to eat candy, it should be on a very limited basis, when mommy and daddy say so.


Many illnesses of modern society are, in part, the consequence of poor food choices. Although foods high in salt (NaCl) and refined sugars contribute to poor health [1], people of all ages consume them in excessive amounts [2], [3], [4], in part because these foods have powerful hedonic appeal, especially for children [5]. Current intakes of sodium and added sugars by the youngest members of our society are well in excess of recommended dietary intakes [2], [6]. Over 90% of American children 2–8 years of age are getting more than half of their discretionary calorie allowance from added sugars [7]. Likewise, sodium intake is approximately 3,200 mg/day (excluding table salt) [8], well above adequate levels of 1,200–1,500 mg/day for 4- to 13-year-olds [9].

To better understand food choices among children, the present study examined individual differences in preference for sugars and salt. It has been argued that evolutionarily driven taste preferences predispose children to consume such diets, with the liking of sweetness attracting them to mothers' milk and fruits, and the liking of salty taste attracting them to sodium and possibly other minerals needed for bone growth [10]. From this perspective, humans evolved a desire to consume once rare calorie- and sodium-rich foods [11], and children's basic biology programs them to like sweet sources of energy and salty minerals during periods of growth [12], [13]. These preferences are not necessarily related to overeating and obesity [14], although they might be under certain circumstances.

With these points in mind, we developed three predictions. First, individual differences in the liking of sodium chloride and sucrose should be concordant in children, as they are in adults [15], and should generalize to a variety of foods. Second, urinary levels of cross-linked N-telopeptides of type I collagen (NTx), a biomarker for bone resorption and growth that is higher during growth spurts [16] and has been linked to sweet liking [17], should also be linked to salty taste liking. Anthropometric measures such as height-for-age, weight, and percent body fat [18], which reflect growth differences among children [19], may also be related to taste preferences. Third, taste preferences may be affected by in-born differences in a sweet taste receptor gene [14], [20].

The study, conducted by Monell and the QIMR Berghofer Research Institute, reveals that a genetic variant means that sweets simply seem sweeter to some.

"Eating too much sugar is often seen as a personal weakness," study author Danielle Reed said. "Just as people born with a poor sense of hearing may need to turn up the volume to hear the radio, people born with weak sweet taste may need an extra teaspoon of sugar in their coffee to get the same sweet punch."

The researchers tested 243 pairs of identical twins, 452 sets of fraternal twins and another 511 individuals before determining that genetic factors were responsible for an approximately 30 percent difference in perception of sweet tastes.

"Our findings indicate that shared experiences, such as family meals, had no detectable ability to make twins more similar in taste measures," Reed pointed out.

In other words, it's nature rather than nurture that's behind your sweet tooth — or lack thereof.

Watch the video: Je to skvělé jídlo, děti ho milují. Cookrate - Czech (January 2022).