News article

Children's preferences for sweeter and saltier tastes are linked to each other

Posted:  Monday, March 24, 2014

Many modern day illness can be attributed to bad food choices as children are more attracted to sugar and salt because it teases their taste buds but results in poor health. Understanding the reason behind a child preference is of great importance, in order to reduce their intake of such foods.

A study conducted by Monell Chemical Senses Center found that children prefer sweeter and saltier food in comparison to adults. The study suggested that this relation is not only limited to food but, also hampers growth and can have an adverse effect on managing their diets at a later stage.

"Our research shows that the liking of salty and sweet tastes reflects in part the biology of the child," said study lead author Julie Mennella, PhD, a bio psychologist at Monell.

"Growing children's heightened preferences for sweet and salty tastes make them more vulnerable to the modern diet, which differs from the diet of our past, when salt and sugars were once rare and expensive commodities."

108 children were tested between the ages of 5-10 years along with their mothers to determine their sweet and salt preferences. The same testing methods were used on both children and adults.

“There are inborn genetic differences that affect the liking for sweet by adults,” says collaborator Danielle Reed, PhD, “but for children, other factors – perhaps the current state of growth – are stronger influences than genetics.”

Studies have determined that US Children are well in excess of the recommended sodium (salt) and added sugar intake. Mennella and colleagues stated that 2/3 of the children were over-weight or obese, due to the consumption of twice the levels of sodium and added sugar, which contributed to almost, 300 calories to their daily diets.

Kids need to have a healthy and balanced diet in order to lead a healthy life.

Healthy Diet:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most children tend to skip breakfast. A healthy breakfast ensures that your child is less likely to eat junk food in the morning because their stomach is full. A bowl full of cereal and milk is a good start to the day. A bowl of soup and toast is a good after school meal. Having meals as a family will help them determine when they are full and ensure they get the required nutrition.

Health Tips:

Adding, sandwiches or pita bread, lean meat, salad, crackers with spread and fruits to their lunch boxes will ensure they eat healthy. Avoid processed food and junk food. Eating unhealthy food will make them obese and unhealthy which in turn invites a plethora of complications. Drinking a lot of water and keeping themselves is also vital.

Ask, children to accompany you grocery shopping and help preparing meals, this help them understand the nutrition value of the food. Providing certain incentivise when they have had the required intake will help them eat healthier and better.