Nutrition Publication

Annales 75.2 - Sweetness: Developmental and Functional Effects

Editor(s): J. Bhatia, M. Makrides.

We are witnessing a worldwide epidemic of obesity in children, adolescents, and adults. While obesity is multifactorial in origin, the increased prevalence of obesity has been paralleled by an increased consumption of “sweet” in the form of refined sugars and fat.

In nature, sweetness can be equated to energy and is associated with a powerful hedonic appeal which is observed across individuals of all ages, races, and cultures. Given that in its simplest form, increased weight gain occurs when energy intake exceeds energy consumption, one factor that is possibly modifiable is the preference of sweets and perhaps a lifelong modification towards a healthier eating life style. In this context, this issue of Annales Nestlé explores the development of sensory preferences spanning the period from the fetus to childhood.

Related Articles

Does Breastfeeding Shape Food Preferences? Links to Obesity

Author(s): A. K. Ventura

Children’s innate dietary preferences are a reflection of our basic biology, which drives the inclination towards sweet items and the avoidance of bitter-tasting items such as green leafy vegetables. Once essential for our survival, this adaptive mechanism is now at odds with an environment overloaded with unhealthy foods. Nevertheless, this biological predisposition can be overcome by modulating early flavor experiences during gestation, breastfeeding, and weaning.

Flavor Perception and Preference Development in Human Infants

Author(s): C. A. Forestell

Children’s innate dietary preferences are a reflection of our basic biology, which drives the inclination towards sweet items and the avoidance of bitter-tasting items such as green leafy vegetables. Once essential for our survival, this adaptive mechanism is now at odds with an environment overloaded with unhealthy foods. Nevertheless, this biological predisposition can be overcome by modulating early flavor experiences during gestation, breastfeeding, and weaning.

Type 1 Taste Receptors in Taste and Metabolism

Author(s): M. Kochem

Type 1 taste receptors (T1Rs) transduce sweet and savory tastes.Not only expressed on the tongue and mouth, T1Rs are also found in other metabolically active tissues throughout the body, such as the intestine and pancreas. These receptors convey the presence of sugars and amino acids, guiding food intake and regulating the metabolic response to foods.

Savoring Sweet: Sugars in Infant and Toddler Feeding

Author(s): R. D. Murray

A child’s first taste experiences are primarily sweet, starting before birth and continuing throughout breastfeeding. Sweetness is not just of nutritive significance, but also invokes powerful social and emotional connotations for the infant. During the introduction of complementary feeding, infants gain exposure to a wide variety of novel foods and flavors. Not only do infants learn eating skills, but this phase also sets the stage for the child’s later dietary habits. Parenting skills play a critical role in shaping the toddler’s emerging dietary pattern, laying the groundwork for future eating habits and nutrition.

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