All children like sweet foods. Maybe now we know why.
All humans appreciate sweetness in foods. However, this preference for sweetness is not constant throughout life; it’s age-dependent, being strong in children but relatively weak in adults. The transition occurs in late adolescence, in both sexes. This is not a western phenomenon – it is experienced in all races and cultures.
But why is it so? What purpose does the preference for sweetness in childhood serve? Is it a problem? And should nutritionists intervene to manage children’s preference for sweetness?
An important new dietary trial has produced challenging results. And there is more to come.
A decade ago two similar studies were undertaken in Finland and the United States to test whether type 2 diabetes could be prevented by diet and lifestyle. In both studies, overweight subjects with pre-diabetes were placed on low fat, weight reduction diets and exercise programs. Amazingly, the results of the two studies were exactly the same: the interventions lowered the incidence of diabetes by 58% over three years. The key drivers of the benefit were considered to be weight loss and increased physical activity.
One issue that these trials did not explore in any depth was the role of diet quality in diabetes prevention i.e. was the ‘low fat’ aspect of the diets relevant? The recent results of the PREDIMED trial provide some tantalising insights.