Lyla Wolfenstein

Kids' Sweet Tooth Related to Growth
A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior finds that kids with a sweet tooth may be craving sugar because it's powering ongoing growth and development. Karen Hopkin reports.

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

Generally speaking, kids do like their candy. Now scientists say that this sweet tooth may have some basis in biology. Because sugars may help fuel the rapid growth of childhood.

Stroll down the cereal aisle of your local supermarket, and you'll no doubt notice that children favor foods that are on the sweet side. But those cravings tend to wane as kids reach adolescence. To find out why, researchers took 143 children, ages 11 to 15, and assessed their preference for sweetness by having them "sip and spit" shots of sugar water. They then separated the kids into two groups, one with a high preference for sweets, and the other with a low preference.

What they found is that the kids who really like their sugar were growing faster than the kids who said that the syrup samples were just too sweet. The sugar fiends had higher blood concentrations of a biomarker associated with bone growth, findings that appear in the March 23rd issue of the journal Physiology & Behavior. And in case you were wondering, the drop-off in sugar-liking did not correlate with the onset of puberty. So it's really the tapering off of growth that makes kids decide that candy's no longer dandy.

-Karen Hopkin

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