The aim of the present study was to evaluate a possible relationship between taste responses to sweet solutions and alcoholic status.Methods
The rated intensity and pleasantness of sucrose taste was compared in male alcoholics (n=45) and non-alcoholic controls (n=33).Results
The rated intensity, but not pleasantness, of water taste (0% sucrose) was higher in the alcoholics. The two groups did not differ with respect to the rated intensity or pleasantness of sucrose solutions (1–30%). The proportion of sweet-likers, i.e. subjects rating 30% sucrose as most pleasant, was similar in both groups (the controls: 57.6%, the alcoholics: 62.2%). A subgroup of alcoholics with a paternal history of alcoholism (n=22) rated the highest sucrose concentration as more pleasant compared to alcoholics without alcoholic fathers. The proportion of sweet-likers among the alcoholics with a paternal history of alcoholism (77.3%) was significantly higher than that found in the alcoholics without a familial history of alcoholism (47.8%).Conclusions
The present results suggest the following: (i) alcohol dependence is not associated with any major alterations in taste responses to sucrose solutions, (ii) sweet liking is a phenotypic marker of male alcoholics with a paternal history of alcoholism.