Sweet tooth? It may be in your genes

June 5, 2008 9:55:01 PM PDT
If you are a sucker for sweets, it might be in your genes.

A research team at the University of Toronto has discovered a genetic difference in people who consume extra sugar in their diets.

"Certainly environmental factors can influence the foods that we like and dislike, but what this line of research demonstrates is that there is also a biological or a genetic basis for some of our likes and dislikes of foods," said researcher Ahmed El-Sohemy of the University of Toronto.

El-Sohemy and his team studied two large groups of volunteers, who completed detailed records of their daily diet. Analyzing blood samples, they found that people with a different form of a gene called "Glut 2" (gloot) had consistently higher sugar intakes, about 20 to 30 grams higher each day.

"It was about the equivalent amount of sugar that you would find in a regular sweetened can of soda," El-Sohemy said.

This gene had only been known to be active in the pancreas, the organ that clears sugar from the blood.

But El-Sohemy and his colleagues found it's also active in the brain. He said, "The individuals who have that version of the gene might have an impaired ability to detect changes in blood sugar that ultimately signal the brain to stop eating."

El-Sohemy says the genetic clue isn't a license to overdo it on sweets. But, it could help understand people who just can't seem to change bad eating habits.