A sweet tooth is in the genes

Scientists have discovered a gene variation that may help to explain why some people crave sugary foods more than others.

A variation in the gene called glucose transporter type two (GLUT2) affects cravings for foods that are high in sugar, according to researchers.

The findings could help tackle diabetes and obesity.

The gene controls the entry of molecules of glucose, a type of carbohydrate sugar, into cells.

A total of 100 volunteers were split into two groups by age, questioned about diet and had blood tests to check for the genetic variation.

People with the variation consistently consumed more sucrose (table sugar), fructose (simple sugar), and glucose than those without it, regardless of age or gender.

The researchers found that those with GLUT2 in the older group consumed up to 30 grams of sugar per day more than those without.

In the younger group, those with the variation drank up to five times more sugary drinks and 20 times more sweets than those who did not have it.

Dr Ahmed El-Sohemy, who led the research, said: ‘A variation in the GLUT2 gene is associated with a higher intake of sugars among different populations.

‘These findings may help explain some of the individual variations in people’s preference for sugary foods.

‘It’s especially important given the soaring rates of obesity and diabetes throughout much of the world.’

The research was done by scientists at the University of Toronto, in Canada, and published online in the magazine, Physiological Genomics.

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