Objective: Although there are established age-related differences in sweet preferences, it remains unknown whether children differ from mothers in their preference for and perception of fat (creaminess). We examined whether individual differences in sucrose and fat preferences and perception are related to age, genotype and lifestyle.
Subjects: Children 5-10 years-old (n=84) and their mothers (n=67) chose the concentration of sucrose and fat most preferred in pudding and sucrose most preferred in water using identical, two-alternative, forced-choice procedures, and ranked pudding samples for intensity of sweetness and creaminess. Subjects were also weighed and measured for height, as well as genotyped for a sweet-receptor gene (TAS1R3).
Results: Children preferred higher concentrations of sucrose in water (P=0.03) and in pudding (P=0.05) and lower concentrations of fat in pudding (P<0.01) than did mothers. Children and mothers were equally able to rank the intensity of different concentrations of fat (P=0.12) but not sucrose in pudding (P=0.01). Obese and lean children and mothers did not differ in preferences, but obese mothers were less able to correctly rank the concentration of fat in pudding than were lean mothers (P=0.03). Mothers who smoked preferred a higher concentration of sucrose than did those who never smoked (P<0.01). Individual differences in sweet preference were associated with genetic variation within the TAS1R3 gene in mothers but not children (P=0.04).
Conclusion: Irrespective of genotype, children prefer higher concentrations of sugar but lower concentrations of fat in puddings than do their mothers. Thus, reduced-fat foods may be better accepted by children than adults.