Association between sweet preference and paternal history of alcoholism in psychiatric and substance abuse patients

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Alcoholism; Chi-Square Distribution; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; *Fathers; Female; Food Preferences; Humans; Logistic Models; Male; Mental Disorders; Middle Aged; Substance-Related Disorders; Sucrose; Taste




BACKGROUND: The relationship between preference for stronger sweet solutions and propensity to excessive alcohol drinking is supported by both animal and human studies. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that sweet preference is associated with the genetic risk of alcoholism as measured by a paternal history of alcoholism.

METHODS: Participants were 180 patients admitted to a residential treatment program for the treatment of alcoholism, drug dependence, or psychiatric conditions. In addition to a routine medical examination, patients completed the standard sweet preference test twice (on the 9th and 24th days after admission), and the family history of alcoholism was evaluated.

RESULTS: Sweet preference was shown to be stable over time. It was strongly associated with a paternal history of alcoholism, with family history-positive patients approximately 5 times more likely to prefer stronger sweet solutions than family history-negative subjects. Such factors as dependence on alcohol, cocaine, opiates, cannabis, other drugs (including prescription drugs), and tobacco smoking, as well as demographics (gender and age), did not significantly interfere with association between sweet preference and paternal history of alcoholism.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide some support for the hypothesis that preference for stronger sweet solutions is associated with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism as measured by a paternal history of alcoholism.

DOI of Published Version



Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2003 Dec;27(12):1929-36. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID