Sweet Tooth: nature or nurture?

Project leader: Prof Kees de Graaf
Time frame: 2019 – 2023
Project code: 19HN01
Project login (project members only)



An important narrative in the societal discourse about foods is the idea that  a sweet taste  promotes energy intake and obesity. The statement ‘less sweetness exposure induces a lower sweetness preference, leading to lower sugar and energy intake, which could result in a lower body weight’ is simple, attractive and powerful. However, scientific evidence that supports this reasoning is currently lacking.

In this project which studies the effect of 6 months dietary sweetness exposure to sweetness preferences, food intake, glucose homeostasis and body weight this topic is addressed to find out whether or not the statement is correct.

The study focusses on the effects of a low, regular and high sweet ad libitum diet on changes in sweetness preferences as primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures include changes in sweetness perception, energy intake, glucose metabolism and body weight. In the 6-month nutrition intervention study with follow-up the subjects are provided with foods that comprise more than 50% of their energy requirements.

The scientific control of this study and its output is under the supervision of a steering committee consisting of fully independent renowned experts from some European universities and research institutions, a Dutch public health institution and a medical charity fund.