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A Child's Sweet Tooth May Be All in the Bones
Date:3/25/2009

Study suggests that fast-growing youth have greater fondness for treats,,

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Ever wonder why your children will eat only a few bites of dinner but have no problem scarfing down a big bowl of ice cream?

Blame it on their growing bones.

New research suggests that children who are growing rapidly have a higher preference for sweets than children growing at a slower rate.

Researchers gave 143 children ages 11 to 15 sugar-water and orange Kool-Aid with increasing levels of sweetness. Then they classified the children into two groups: high preference or low preference for sweetness.

They found that children who had the highest levels of a biomarker for bone growth (type I collagen cross-linked N-telopeptides) in their urine were most likely to be in the group that liked the sweetest drinks.

"It's been known for a long time that children have an incredible sweet tooth -- 'Give me Cocoa Puffs and add more sugar,' " said Susan Coldwell, an associate professor of dental public health sciences at the University of Washington and lead author of the new study. "They are using a lot of calories during growth, and the body is responding to that by an increased sweet preference."

Children across cultures have shown a preference for higher levels of sweetness in their foods than have adults. And researchers have wondered whether the preference could be explained by biological or social factors, such as children not having been exposed to as many foods as adults or not yet feeling the pressure to avoid junk food to stay thin.

While there could be multiple reasons children choose cupcakes over spinach, they might be driven to consume sugar because their young bodies can efficiently convert it into energy to fuel growth, Coldwell said.

Yet some researchers said the study does not prove that rapid growth is the cause of the sweet preference.


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