OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to test in humans the finding
from animal studies indicating an association between preference for more
concentrated sweet solutions and excessive alcohol drinking. METHOD: The
hedonic response to five different concentrations of sucrose solution was
evaluated in 20 detoxified alcoholic and 37 nonalcoholic Caucasian men. All
subjects repetitively tasted solutions with 0.05, 0.10, 0.21, 0.42, and
0.83 M sucrose concentrations and rated themselves on two scales measuring
the intensity of sweetness and the likability of the solutions. RESULTS: A
bimodal distribution of responses to the sweet solutions occurred in the
nonalcoholic comparison group, with peaks at 0.05 M and 0.42 M. In the
alcoholic group, 65% of the subjects preferred the highest sucrose
concentration (0.83 M), compared with only 16% of the nonalcoholic group.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this exploratory study support the hypothesis
suggesting a positive association between the preference for stronger sweet
solutions and alcohol dependence.