A Gene for Sweet Cravings

Feel the need to eat chocolate when under pressure? You might be able to blame it on your genes, specifically a gene in the brain that responds to stress. This gene, when active, brings out your anxiety and as well as bringing about metabolic changes that tell your body to burn sugar, rather than fat. The same metabolic changes reduce insulin sensitivity in muscles, raising sugar levels in the blood, and causing the pancreas to churn out more insulin. According to the Institute scientists who revealed the gene’s function, if the constant stress of daily life keeps this gene overworked, the result could be metabolic disease, obesity and diabetes.


  1. #1 Anonymous
    October 6, 2010

    These news were released over five months ago.

  2. #2 Weizmann Science Writer
    October 7, 2010

    True. But next week’s PNAS will have a paper on the next stage of this research. (That’s all I can say about it at this point. Read the article.)

  3. #3 Nofutur
    October 11, 2010

    Though the brief summary here is not so intriguing, the study is pretty interesting. Choosing the rPFA to manipulate is a nice trick.

    Here is the link to the paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/04/08/1003969107.abstract

    On a side note, I would like to see more research on emotional regulation from Dr. Chen’s lab.

  4. #4 brownmaria
    October 18, 2010

    Just wondering if there are some natural “remedies” for reducing those sweet cravings mid-day or for reducing hunger levels in general.

  5. #5 Varsh
    October 24, 2010

    I found this study extremely interesting, however there are not as many details as I would have liked. How exactly did they go about the study? I agree with Nofutur, I would like to know the emotional regulation of this test. And are there any more details? As a person who frequently goes through stress and has a major sweet tooth, I’d like to read more on this!

  6. #6 Callyn
    October 24, 2010

    This answers many questions I’ve had over the years such as why I eat chocolate when I’m stressed or why ice cream is the only thing that can get me to bed on stressful nights. Do you think this may also be one of the reasons why people chew gum during hard tests or while writing important papers? I also understand why this is causing diabetes and obesity because if someone is being bullied on the playground for being overweight, their bodies might tell them to eat more sugar which can just add to their problems. Also, with all of the academic pressure put on our generation, it’s no wonder why the percent of obese Americans is rising year by year.

  7. #7 Alri Richter
    April 1, 2015

    I agree with these findings as I have experienced this in my friend’s family. All of the females in his family have an intense love for sweet things. So much that one of his aunt’s has been diagnosed with diabetes after long years of unhealthy snacking. This study proves that, just like cancer and many other genetically transmitted diseases, a love for sweets can also be transmitted through genes and could cause many problems if not kept under control.

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