While various researches have shown alcoholism to run in families many children of alcoholics do not develop the disease. According to researchers a simple taste test can help in identifying whether the offsprings of alcoholic fathers will take to alcohol in later life or not.
A new study has found that children of alcoholics find salty tastes less pleasurable and sour tastes more intense as compared to those who do not have a family history of alcoholism.
The study was conducted on 112 non-alcoholic adults. Out of these 45 participants had a paternal history of alcoholism and the rest had no such history. All the participants were made to drink a series of salty or sour solutions in different concentrations and asked to rate their intensity and pleasantness. It was observed that children of alcoholic fathers found the salty tastes unpleasant as compared to children of non- alcoholics. They also expressed a greater dislike for the sour taste and found them more intense.
Researchers say that this study suggests two possibilities: Firstly, children of alcoholic fathers who possess these unique characteristics of taste may be protected from alcoholism. Because alcohol normally produces a bitter or sour taste sensation in healthy people, children with sensitivity to sour taste may be put off by the taste of alcohol. This may in fact prevent them from taking alcohol and thereby decrease their risk of becoming alcoholic.
On the other hand researchers also feel that there is a possibility that children with a paternal history of alcoholism may inherit genetic alterations in taste characteristics that can put them at increased risk for alcoholism.
The studies are still in their early stages but once its efficacy is proved, the ‘taste test’ may be used as a simple and cheap tool for detecting the risk of alcoholism (in children with family history of alcoholism). This will help to identify children at risk of alcohol abuse beforehand and thereby in implementing preventive measures much before the habit develops.