According to a new study published in the journal Twin Research and Human Genetics, nearly one-third of our ability to taste sweetness comes from genetics.
In the study, researchers at the Monell Center in Philadelphia found a singular of genes impacts a person’s perception of sweet taste, despite whether that sweetener is natural sugar or a sugar substitute.
“Eating too much sugar is often seen as a personal weakness. However, our work suggests that part of what determines our perception of sweetness is inborn in our genetic makeup,” study author Danielle Reed, a behavioral geneticist at Monell, said in a statement. “Just as people born with a poor sense of hearing may need to turn up the volume to hear the radio, people born with weak sweet taste may need an extra teaspoon of sugar in their coffee to get the same sweet punch.”
The study also found little support for a shared environmental effect on sweet perception. Presuming twin pairs had taken part in communal meals as children, this result conflicts with the popular belief that access to sugary foods may dull children to sweet foods.
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