Sugar: My Genes Made Me Do It!

Sugar: My Genes Made Me Do It

I could enter a pie eating contest and win, or at least place. I couldn’t scarf hot dogs, like competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi (pictured here showing off his awesome six pack abs), but something sweet, yes.

That’s because when I eat sugar, I can’t stop. And don’t call it a “sweet tooth,” because that’s just patronizing. Rather than satisfy me, a small square of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate will likely trigger a binge that will end with me passed out in an alley covered in candy foil—with no memory of how I got there.

Nothing is too sweet for me. Some of my earliest memories include locking myself in the pantry to polish off a box of Christie’s Fudgee-O cookies, and eating candy until I was literally sick. And I wasn’t even a fat kid–I was actually scrawny!

Not much has changed–I still have a sugar issue and I am still a bit scrawny. I keep my addiction at bay with a Draconian diet that has barely any sugar in it, with the exception of fruit in pre- and post-workout recovery meals. I’ve always joked that when it comes to sugar, there’s a short circuit in the wire from my stomach to my brain, and the message that I’m full never gets transmitted.

The language in my explanation may have been sophomoric, but I was on to something. A study published in Physiological Genomics found that people with a variation in gene called GLUT2 consume more sugar than those without it.

The study revealed GLUT2 may be related to glucose sensing in the brain, which signals us to stop eating when our blood sugar gets high. The gene variant wasn’t tied to fat, protein, or alcohol consumption.

“But that doesn’t mean that the GLUT2 gene variant drives people to binge on sugar–or that everyone with a sweet tooth can blame the GLUT2 gene. Observational studies like this one don’t prove cause and effect,” WebMD Health News’ Miranda Hitti explains.

Researchers, however, argue that the GLUT2 gene deserves further study, including developing personalized dietary advice based on individuals genetic profiles.