Why Kids Have Sweet Cravings

Mar 19, 2009
You may need to think twice before limiting access to all sweet food for your child as study shows that most kids have a sweet tooth for a reason.

Danielle Reed, PhD, and the leading author of the research conducted at the University of Washington and the Monell Center, studied children's preferences for sweet food in connection with their physical growth.

Scientists tested the sensory taste preferences in 143 children aged between 11 and 15, dividing all the participants into "high preference' and "low preference" groups. It was discovered that children in "low preference" food had decreased level of a biomarker (type I collagen cross-linked N-teleopeptides; NTx) that is linked to bone growth during childhood and adolescence.

The findings indicate that sweet preference is based on children's biological need for growth. During the rapid growth, children need more energy and sweet food is the best source of it. The study also shows that as physical growth of children slows down, children's preferences for sweet food become less intense.

Other factors including puberty or sex hormone levels were not linked to preferences for sweet food. Scientists want to find the factor in the brain, which plays a major role in sweet preferences.

The study was published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.