Your child too craves for chocolate? Blame genes

Does your child crave for chocolates? If yes, then you can’t do much to rectify his/her eating habits as it is due to genes that prompt your child to eat sweetened stuff again and again. A new study explains that some kids have extra sensitive taste buds to detect sugar which prompts them more to eat sugary content so that they can get the same taste again.

Lead researchers Danielle Reed from the Monell Centre said that some children are nearly 20 times more sensitive than others in detecting sugary taste. For the study, researchers observed 216 healthy children aged between 7 and 14 years and tried to identify the lowest detectable sucrose level among the kids. Now, for the test researchers gave two bowls to every participants — first bowl contained distilled water and second bowl was sweetened with sugar.

Participants were asked to take a sip and tell which bowl had sugar content. The procedure was repeated again with lesser sugar content this time until the child failed to identify any difference among both the bowls; this stage was marked as the child’s lowest detectable sucrose level. Study authors were astonished to note that the lowest detectable sucrose level varied a lot between three teaspoons for least child to 0.005 teaspoons of sugar for the most sensitive child.

Researcher analysed DNA of 168 children to explore genetic influence on taste and identify variation in two sweet taste genes known to be related to sweet sensitivity in adults — the TAS1R3 G-coupled protein sweet receptor gene and the GNAT3 sweet receptor signalling gene. In addition, study authors observed variation in the TAS2R38 bitter receptor gene, which is known to be related to individual differences in sweet preferences among children. Studying both the genes, it was found that even small changes in patterns of these genes are linked with the differential sensitivity of the respective receptor to its activating taste stimuli.

“We were surprised to find that sweet taste sensitivity and sugar consumption were related to a bitter receptor gene,” said Reed. It was also found that greater sensitivity to sweet taste was linked to increased body fat.

The study appeared in the journal Nursing Research.

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