If Marie Antoinette really said "Let them eat cake," she probably knew the French wouldn't bite. Along with the British and other Europeans, the French have developed genetic variants that make them more sensitive to sweetness in food, a new study says. Africans, on the other hand, need more sugar to wake up their taste buds. As DNA researchers often say, the difference may come down to survival.
"The straight answer is we don't know" why Africans are less sensitive to sugar, says study leader Dennis Drayna. "But there are some tantalizing possibilities." Africans may have adapted to the tropics' high-sugar fruits and vegetables, he said, while Europeans refined their taste buds to find sweetness in the less sugary foods of northern climes.