According to a new report in the journal Addiction, children with an extra-sweet tooth might be depressed, or at higher risk for future alcoholism, the BBC reports. Children who are especially drawn to sweet tastes are more likely to have a close relative with an alcohol problem, or to suffer themselves from depression, the BBC reports, although it’s unclear if their preference for sweet foods is related to chemical differences, or upbringing. Sweet taste might trigger the same reaction in the brain as alcohol, they say; according to lead author Julie Mennella, “It may be that even higher levels of sweetness are needed to make depressed children feel better.” In the study, scientists asked 300 children aged 5 to 12 to taste five sweet water drinks with different amounts of sugar. Half of them had a family member with an alcohol dependency. After they were asked which tasted best, and checked for symptoms of depression, researchers found one-quarter might be depressed. Liking intense sweetness was greatest in 37 children with a family history of alcoholism and reported depressive symptoms, who preferred the drink with the most sugar – 24 per cent sucrose, equivalent t about 14 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of water, more than twice the level in a typical cola. This was one-third more intense than what other children preferred. What’s more, non-depressed children could tolerate keeping their hands in very cold water for longer if they’d had sugar, but the sugar did nothing for depressed children’s pain threshold.
Candy-loving kids might risk depression
Kids with a sweet tooth might be depressed, at risk for alcoholism