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New study suggests some kids have greater preference for salt and sugar due to biological make-up

Posted on Mar 21, 2014 by Maggie LaBarbera

Are kids really hardwired to crave sweet foods?  Is it really part of their biological make-up?

Hmm.  According to a recent study* it might be true.  Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia that biology may be the reason some children prefer more sweets than adults. (obviously they did not test my husband!lol)

The study also found that kids who had a higher sweet tooth also had a preference for salty foods. According to biopsychologist, Julie Mennella, biology predisposes humans to enjoy and want to eat sweet and salty foods (which also are higher in calories).  This is more evident in children who are growing.

What was more interesting was the correlation between kids that seemed to have a greater preference for sweet and salty foods and their growth and development.

  • Kids that liked more sweet foods tended to be taller for their age
  • Kids that preferred more salty foods tended to have a higher percentage of body fat.

Now, this was a very small study, testing data from 108 children. So you might want to take the results "with a grain of salt". 

But I think the key is to realize that we do have different preferences and just cutting out salt and sugar from a child's diet can be harder for some kids than others.  

We know that children consume far more sugar and salt than their body needs.  And it is posing a health risk for our nation's children. 

So, as parents, if you are working with your children to improve their health and get them to eat healthier, be sensitive that it might be harder for some children than others.  

As parents, we want to encourage, support and guide our children to healthier choices gently.  Some children may need a slower transition, "more baby steps" as you wean them down from high salty (sodium when you look at food labels) or sugary foods.

Children also need to feel successful so celebrate these baby steps.  They are mini goals on the way to the larger goal of significantly reducing sugar and salt from your children's diet.  

Nourishing Thought for the Day:  change needs to be a family event. 





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