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Hearing the familiar jingle of an ice cream truck in the heat of summer may not be the only reason kids constantly crave sweet treats.
Children don’t just like sugar — they are biologically hard-wired to eat it, according to scientist Julie Mennella, a researcher with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
“During periods of growth, they’re attracted to foods that give us calories. In the past, it was fruits: dates, honey,” she said. “Now children are living in environments where sugar’s everywhere.”
Children have “a very exquisite biology that attracts them to the predominant taste quality of mother’s milk, and then to high-calorie foods during periods of growth,” she added.
Mennella spoke to NBC Nightly News for a two-part series on sugar consumption in the United States. In response to the food and beverage industry being villianized for making sugar too prevalent in our diets, the Food and Drug Administration last month proposed a rule that would require food labels to say not just how much sugar is in a product, but what percentage of the daily recommended intake it comprises.