Does Gender Affect How Much Sugar You Crave?

My birthday was on Wednesday and it was a big one. While some people look forward to presents, dinners or time with friends, I was (sadly) most excited about finally having an appropriate excuse to eat birthday cake.

I say appropriate because I don't isolate birthday cakes to just birthdays. That's because birthday cake is my favorite dessert of all time – specifically chocolate cake with white frosting. Oh man. My brain tweaks a little just thinking of it. Sometimes on a Sunday night, I'll buy myself a tiny birthday cake for no reason whatsoever. For the record, I'm not proud of that.

Sugar is my drug of choice. I crave the sweet stuff like nothing else in my life. I was talking about my love of sweets with a friend recently and she mentioned that it was odd that I was both a guy and really into sugar. In her world, women liked sugar much more than men. I had never thought of it as a gender issue, but it got me wondering. Does gender affect how much you like sugar? I set out to do some very unscientific research on the subject.

In a Facebook poll conducted by the firm of Jason Kessler & Associates, a whopping 82% of those surveyed answered "women" when asked "Which gender likes sugar more?" While the results may not hold up to professional review, the data suggests that people in general think that women prefer sweets. This could very well be due to Peg Bundy's predilection for bon bons on Married with Children. Whatever the reason, there is definitely a shared perception that women get down with sweets more than men.

Does science offer us any concrete answers? Of course it does. In a 2003 study published in the very exciting-sounding Physiology & Behavior journal, researchers from the University of Illinois concluded that "both gender and age influence one's preference of comfort foods." They found that women tend to go for snack-related comfort foods like ice cream and chocolate while guys opted for more nutritious meal-related foods of the pizza/pasta/burger variety. Unfortunately, they offered no findings on gender preference for cross-category comfort foods like Choco Tacos and molasses lasagna.

While science may confirm that women gravitate towards the sweet stuff, it's harder to establish why. Writer Allison Ford tackles this very issue on ladysite "Divine Caroline" where she points to estrogen and serotonin as possible culprits in the gender divide when it comes to sugar. There's no definitive evidence to back up her claims (which she acknowledges), so the reasoning is still up in the air. Either way, I'm now convinced that I've inhabited a new minority: the sugar-loving man.

After examining all the research, it appears that yes, gender does figure into whether or not somebody likes sugar. Do I care that I'm crossing gender lines to get to that birthday cake? No. Of course not. All I care about is that I get to eat it. Sugar scientists, you may want to get deep into my psyche to figure this thing out. I'm currently available for intensive studying – as long as I get to do some sweet product testing in the process.

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