Mapping sweetness preference across the lifespan for culturally different societies
The preference of sweetened foods can be influenced by a variety of biological, psychological, sociological, and environmental factors. In this study, we focused on differences across three distinct societies: 1) a modern society (i.e., Polish people, n = 199), 2) forager-horticulturalists from Amazon/Bolivia (Tsimane', n = 138), and 3) traditional hunter-gatherers from Tanzania (Hadza, n = 81). To measure sweet preference, participants were asked to drink three cups containing slightly acidic solutions (pH = 2.79) varying in sucrose concentration (w/v; 0%, 25%, 67%). Only 5% of the Polish participants chose the sweetest cup as their favorite, while this cup was chosen by 74% of the Hadza and 53% of the Tsimane’ participants. Further, age was an inversely related to sweet preference for Polish participants; however, age did not predict preferences for both Tsimane’ and Hadza tribes. We discuss our findings in the context of environmental and cultural differences between the participating populations.