Relationship Between Sweets and Alcoholism

Study Links Alcohol, Sweet Cravings

UPI Science News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., Feb. 3 (UPI) — University of North Carolina
researchers say a strong desire for sweets may be a clue that someone has
a tendency to become an alcoholic.

The February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry found
alcoholics are much more likely to prefer strongly sweet tastes than
non-alcoholics. “In animal studies consumption of sweets has been the
best predictor of propensity to drink alcohol,” Dr. Alexey B.
Kampov-Polevoy, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says
today (Monday). “Now we have begun to see similar results in humans.”

In animals predisposed to drink alcohol, scientists have found two
characteristics: the inability to control urges to consume sweets and the
preference for stronger concentrations of sweetness. One of three UNC
researchers who authored the paper, Kampov says the new study is the
first published based upon human research. It seems to confirm humans
also prefer stronger concentrations.

Twenty alcoholic men and 37 non-alcoholic men were asked to taste five
sugar solutions ranging from not sweet to very sweet. The strongest
solution tasted twice as sweet as Coca-Cola Classic.

Two-thirds of the alcoholics in the study preferred the sweetest
solution compared to only 16 percent of non-alcoholics. Adding further
confirmation to the published results, Kampov told United Press
International the published work has already been replicated in a similar
study he and his colleagues recently conducted in Indiana.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to develop a test to predict
alcoholism. Kampov says that, combined with other factors such as
impulsiveness and novelty seeking, a desire for highly-concentrated
sweets could eventually become an effectve pre-screen for the

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