March 18/Washington/Monell Chemical Senses Center -- Scientists from the Monell Chemical Senses Center have found that kids who most prefer high levels of sweet tastes also most prefer high levels of salt taste. In addition, the research finds that, in general, children prefer sweeter and saltier tastes than do adults.

These preferences relate not only to food intake but also to measures of growth and can have important implications for efforts to change children's diets.

"Our research shows that the liking of salty and sweet tastes reflects in part the biology of the child," study lead author Julie Mennella, Ph.D., a biopsychologist at Monell said.

"Growing children's heightened preferences for sweet and salty tastes make them more vulnerable to the modern diet, which differs from the diet of our past, when salt and sugars were once rare and expensive commodities," she added.

The study is published online in PLOS ONE.