Adolescents and Young AdultsHealth Trends

Sweet-taste perception changes as children develop

Compared with adults, children and adolescents are less sensitive to the sweet taste and need 40% more sucrose in a solution for them to detect the taste of sugar, a new study found. Along with higher taste-detection thresholds, both children and adolescents prefer significantly more concentrated levels of sweetness than adults.

The study included 108 children, 172 adolescents and 205 adults, who ranged in age from 7 to 67 years. Consistent with prior studies, the researchers found that children preferred more intense sweetness than did adults.

Adults favored levels of sweetness similar to a typical cola soft drink, which contains the equivalent of about eight sugar cubes in an 8-ounce glass of water, Mennella said. Children and adolescents preferred a 50% higher sucrose concentration – equivalent to about 12 sugar cubes in 8 ounces of water.

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