Excess Desire for Sweets Indicates a Mental Health Problem
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
While eating sweets is a basic pleasure and may seem innocent enough, a skewed sense of taste that desires a higher-than-normal level of sweetness is associated with a family history of alcohol abuse and current depression symptoms.
This new study1 was carried out in children. Thus, if you have a child who only wants sweets and won’t eat their veggies then you have a child who is likely to struggle with compulsions and mood in their future life.
This is because the higher the sugar intake the faster the dopamine release (reward circuitry in the brain). If a child’s taste is set so as to need excess sweet taste to be satisfied it indicates significant problems in the brain’s reward circuitry.
This predicts all manner of mental health problems. Parents have a responsibility to help their children build healthier brains that will get them through the tougher times when they are adults. Otherwise, a child’s sweet desire of today is some other far worse substance in the future.
Additionally, when the sweet taste system is disturbed then so are the leptin receptors on the tongue. This readily leads to overeating and weight gain – another aspect of the problem.
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