'Sweet tooth' could lead to more fruit, less obesity

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vegetable Nutrition

The sweet tooth hypothesis, that people who prefer sweets eat more
fruit, could be used to develop strategies to boost fruit and veg
intake and tackle obesity, suggests fundamental research from
France and the US.

The research may also have implications for flavour scientists and food formulators looking to formulate products that could be easily and quickly accepted by consumers with well characterized taste preferences.

The new research, published in the July issue of the journal Appetite​ (Vol. 47, pp. 107-110), reports that people who like sweets tend to eat more fruit that people who like savoury foods, and that people who like fruit eat more sweets than vegetable lovers.

"Understanding these taste or preference covariances enables us to better determine why, e.g., fruit lovers tend to eat sweet snacks. This, in turn, helps us better understand what drives the consumption frequency of various foods,"​ wrote lead author Brian Wansink from Cornell University.

To establish that people who like sweets tend to eat more fruit that people who like savoury foods, the researchers used data from the USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) taken during the years of 19941996 to compare average intake of sweet and salty snacks and total fruit intake for 14,292 individuals.

It was found that people who were frequent consumers of fruit were also frequent consumers of sweet snacks, and people who preferred salty snacks consumed less fruit.

The researchers then contacted a random 2,000 sample of North Americans and asked them to complete a survey to determine if sweet snack consumption was related more strongly to fruit than to vegetable consumption.

"The correlation between sweet snack consumption and fruit consumption was higher than that for sweet snack consumption and vegetable consumption,"​ reported the researchers.

These results, said Wansink, are consistent with the 'sweet tooth' hypothesis, and that by knowing if a person likes one type of food, food and nutritional scientists should be better able to predict what other types of foods he or she might prefer.

"Comprehensive taste profiles for various subsegments of fruit lovers and vegetable lovers might provide useful insights that would lead to more effective message strategies that are more efficiently targeted,"​ concluded the researchers.

A report from the European Union showed that global fruit and vegetable production was over 1 230m tonnes in 2001-2002, worth over $50bn (41bn). Asia produced 61 per cent, while Europe and North/Central America both producing nine per cent.

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