July 12/Buffalo/All Headline News -- Adding caffeine to sugar-sweetened, carbonated beverages likely teaches kids to prefer those drinks, according to recently presented research.

Scientists with State University of New York, Buffalo, said that they suspect caffeine is added to beverages for other reasons than boosting flavor.

“Soda manufacturers claim that caffeine is added to their products to enhance flavor, However, the majority of people cannot taste the difference between caffeinated and non-caffeinated soda,” senior author Jennifer Temple said in a statement released at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior meeting.

Temple said that she and her colleagues hypothesize that adolescents who repeatedly consume a new and unfamiliar drink that contains caffeine would like that beverage more over time. However, those who drank an unfamiliar beverage without caffeine would probably not experience a change in preference.

The researchers tested adolescents between the ages of 12-17 who visited the laboratory multiple times. During each visit, they sampled an unfamiliar soda drink and rated their preference for it.

Researchers said participants increased their liking for the sodas with the highest levels of caffeine, but there was no change in the preferences for non-caffeinated or low-caffeinated sodas.

From the July 12, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.