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.