Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Which kids really like a sweet taste

(C)hildren'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 way they did this was to pick kids with a genetic disposition to alcoholism and have them taste water with 5 different concentrations of table sugar, and they asked them which one they liked best. Most of these kids liked 18% sugar, which is somewhat higher than a Coke. (And isn't that depressing all by itself; most of these kids liked things sweeter than Coke.) Kids who reported being depressed or who were in families with a history of alcoholism preferred 24% sugar, more than twice what's in a Coke.

Half of the kids (49%) had a history of alcoholism, which they defined as as having a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle who had been diagnosed as being alcohol dependent. I think this probably understated the amount of alcoholism, because a lot of drunks don't get diagnosed as alcohol dependent, but it's interesting that only half of the kids who were genetically disposed to alcoholism had even one relative who had been diagnosed. I've got more drunks than that in my own family.

I've asked before what we would do when we can predict which kids are genetically disposed to alcoholism. I guess one answer is you do more research.

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