Kids’ Sweet Tooth Linked to Alcoholism, Depression

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about two-thirds of Americans are counted as either overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is a serious health crisis, and Michelle Obama is launching a campaign addressing this issue, as cited in a Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

Ms. Obama’s objectives are to:
o improve nutrition and physical education in schools;
o promote activity such as walking and biking in community planning;
o make healthy food more available, particularly in poor areas;
o and make nutrition information on food packages clearer.

Today’s article from AOL News cites a related study that links children’s preference for sweets to a family history of alcoholism or depression. Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the research was conducted by scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, and published online in the journal Addiction. As the article iterates:

“The findings suggest that a preference for sweets might not be solely about taste buds, but instead could have to do with the child’s chemical makeup and family history. However, an outside expert at the U.K.’s Cardiff University, professor Tim Jacob, told the BBC the Monell study’s findings were interesting, but that it’s tough to make firm conclusions from one study alone. The results could reveal something about children’s brain chemistry, but also might be explained by behavior and upbringing, he said.

“While it is true that sweet things activate reward circuits in the brain, the problem is that sweets and sugar are addictive, because the activation of these reward circuits causes opioid release, and with time more is needed to achieve the same effect,” Jacob said. “But the taste difference may be explained by differences like parental control over sweet consumption.”

Helping students make healthy choices starts at an early age by offering them develop strong decision-making skills. As educators, we can help to make a difference by fostering critical thinking skills and life skills that promote delayed gratification and how to manage strong emotions. All of LifeBound’s student success programs aim to equip students with the skills they need for school, career and life, and our PEOPLE SMARTS book empowers them to make informed decisions. In addition to content that challenges students to assess the outcomes of their behavior, each chapter contains a true story courageous teens who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles through personal action. We also offer sessions for parents that teach coaching skills to support them in their role as leaders at home. For more information or for a review copy or to receive a curriculum sample of the PEOPLE SMARTS text, please call the LifeBound office toll free 1.877.737.8510 or email at

AOL News
by Lauren Frayer
(Feb. 10) – A new study finds that children are more likely to have an intense sweet tooth if they have a family history of alcoholism, or if they’ve suffered from depression themselves.

The research was conducted by scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, and published online in the journal Addiction.

Sugary foods and alcohol trigger many of the same reward circuits in the brain, so scientists in this case decided to test the sweet tooth of children with a family history of alcohol dependence. They also hypothesized that children who suffer from depression might be more likely to crave sweets, because they make them feel better.

To view the entire article visit

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