Food & Drink: Food for thought Why do children like sweets?

It is said that nearly all humans, especially Europeans, love the taste of sweetness. Some scientists believe that we have evolved to understand that sweet-tasting foods are safe to eat. This may be due to primitive humans gathering fruits, some of which were unripe or poisonous, and so tasted bitter. However, if the fruits were ripe, then the taste would have been sweet.

Sweet-tasting foods have been in use throughout time: ancient confectionery based on honey, for example, was regarded as a luxury item. Early records show that sugar was used for preservation and medicinally. Today, our lifestyles, the diets of our parents, peer pressure and the foods that were fed to us at an early age are all factors in determining our food preferences. Another may be the use of sweets as rewards for a child's action, which may explain the association of sweets with love, wellbeing and comfort. Roy Ballam, British Nutrition Foundation

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