A marker of growth differs between adolescents with high vs. low sugar preference

Physiol Behav. 2009 Mar 23;96(4-5):574-80. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.12.010. Epub 2008 Dec 31.


Sweet preference is higher in childhood than adulthood but the mechanism for this developmental shift is not known. The objective of this study was to assess perceptual, physiological and eating habit differences between children preferring solutions high in sugar (high preference) and children preferring solutions low in sugar (low preference). We tested 143 children (11- to 15-years old) using sip and spit methodology to assess their hedonic profile, detection threshold, and perceived intensity of sucrose. Their plasma concentration of several hormones, a biomarker of bone-growth, body size, puberty stage, and dietary habits were measured. Eighty-eight children were classified as high preference and 53 were classified as low preference based on their hedonic ratings to a series of sucrose solutions. A marker of bone growth measured in urine and plasma leptin adjusted for body weight were significantly lower in the low preference group. Children with high and low preference patterns did not differ in sensory aspects of sucrose perception, nor did they differ in age, body mass index percentile, or dietary restraint. The change in sugar preference from high to low during adolescence appears to be associated with the cessation of growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Bone Development / physiology
  • Child
  • Collagen Type I / urine*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / drug effects
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Gonadal Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Peptides / urine*
  • Puberty / metabolism*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Taste Threshold / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Collagen Type I
  • Gonadal Hormones
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Peptides
  • Sweetening Agents
  • collagen type I trimeric cross-linked peptide
  • Sucrose