How do you decide if a sugary treat is too sweet or just right for you

This recently published study shows that a greater number of genes are involved than previously thought. These genes may work in conjunction with your brain to affect your sugar addiction.

Read more: Fact or fiction – is sugar addictive?

What we know

Taste receptors are activated when food is in contact with our taste buds. The signal travels up the taste nerves and into our brain. This creates a flavor sensation and helps us decide whether we like the food.

In the last decade, genetic research has focused primarily on genes that affect sweetness. It also examined whether variations in these genes influence how we perceive sweetness and how much we consume.

In a previous study, we found that genetics accounted for 30% of the sweetness we perceive in sugars and artificial sweeteners. At the time, we did not know which genes were involved.

Read more: Curious Kids: how do tongues taste food?

What our latest study found

The new study analyzed data from 176,867 people of European ancestry from Australia, the US, and the UK.

We also measured the sweetness of artificial sweeteners, such as neohesperidin Dihydrochalcone and Aspartame. Also, we asked 686 Americans if they thought sucrose tasted sweet and if so.

The UK Biobank also contained data on the intake of sweets, such as chocolates and lollipops, and dietary sugars.

How many lollipops do you consume per day? Researchers combined genome analysis with these questions to discover links between sugar consumption and genes. from

We then looked at associations between the millions of genetic markers spread across the entire genome and perceptions of sweetness and sugar intake using a technique called genome-wide association analysis.

We found that after a 15-year research, several genes (others than those associated with sweet taste receptors) have a greater impact on our perception of sweetness and the amount of sugar we consume and drink.

There was a link between the gene FTO and sugar consumption. This gene was previously associated with obesity and health risks. The effect may be driven not by FTO but by nearby genes. These proteins act in the brain and regulate appetite as well as how much energy is used.

Genes near the FTO gene could be regulating how much sugar is consumed in our brains.

This study shows that the brain is a major factor in determining how sweet something tastes to us and how much we consume. This is in addition to the knowledge we have about taste receptors.

Sweet foods are a favorite of many people.

Our natural love of sweet food could be a legacy from evolution. Scientists think that being able to taste sweetness helped our ancestors to identify food rich in energy, which was crucial for their survival.

Read more: Our ancient obsession with food: humans as evolutionary Master Chefs.

However, being able to taste sweetness doesn’t always mean you prefer to eat lots of sweet-tasting food.

There are genes linked to the consumption of sweet food, but not our perception of how lovely they are. For example, FTO. There is the influence that perceives sweetness, but not whether or not we eat sweet foods.

Regional Differences

Our study of large populations of European descent found that genes for sweet taste receptors did not affect either the ability to taste sweetness or the amount of sugar consumed.

We found that by comparing individuals of different ancestries from the UK Biobank, we could see some differences between populations, which variations in genes for sweet-taste receptors may explain. We found that people of African descent tend to consume more sugar than those of European or Asian descent.

How can we make use of this?

Our latest study provides a genetic explanation for why some people prefer sweet foods. This could lead to the development of personalized diets that improve eating habits.

Genetics is not the only thing that influences your desire for sweet foods or how much you consume. You can’t blame your genes for a failed attempt to stop drinking or eating sugary drinks and snacks.

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