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Born to Love Sweets

Can you blame your genes for loving sweet foods?

Recently, Finnish researchers showed that you may have inherited your “sweet tooth.” Looking at genetic profiles of 146 adults from 26 families, they identified an area on a chromosome linked with a preference for sweet foods. People with a particular variation of this chromosome rated sweet foods as more pleasant-tasting, ate more of them and had more frequent sweet-food cravings than people with other variations.

“The fact that there is genetic variation among people in sweet-food preference points to some underlying reason, perhaps a possible biological advantage,” says Markus Perola, M.D., Ph.D., who led the research. In leaner times, a preference for sweet (caloric, life-sustaining!) foods may have provided an evolutionary edge. Today the trait may seem more of a liability.

Still, says Perola, it could be reassuring to know that “a preference for sweet foods is not just learned behavior.” In other words, it’s not a weak will that makes it harder for you to resist treats; maybe it’s those “survivor” genes.

—Sylvia Geiger, M.S., R.D.



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