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Kids & Sugar

April 13, 2009

Kids may love sweets more when they’re having a growth spurt.


A method to kids’ sugar madness. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Kids love sugar even more than adults, but it’s been unclear why. Now, a new study suggests it’s directly related to growth. Psychologist Sue Coldwell of the University of Washington School of Dentistry and her colleagues studied taste preferences in 11 to 15 year olds. They found that kids who liked the sweetest tastes also had high levels of metabolized bone in their urine.

SUE COLDWELL (University of Washington School of Dentistry):
We see that when kids are growing rapidly, and the bones are breaking down and re-forming, to make them longer. So this was a good way to assess how rapidly the kids were growing.

Several other markers, like puberty-related hormones, didn’t relate to sweet preference. Coldwell says it makes sense that the body would crave extra energy during growth spurts. But she cautions that today’s sugary treats give kids way more than they need. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.