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Drop in for the science of why we love sweets

Published: 7 September 2021 at 11:21

An assortment of sweets

Workshop will demonstrate how our lungs, eyes and even our bones react to our food

Experts from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) will demonstrate how different organs in our bodies react to taste, and why our love of sweet things is hard-wired, as part of the British Science Festival 2021.

Researchers will set up a sweet shop in Chelmsford city centre and invite people to drop in and try an array of different flavoured confectionary to explain how different parts of our body react to different tastes.

Taste receptors are located all over the body and have natural responses to certain types of taste. For example, bitter taste receptors in the lungs sense bacteria to activate an anti-bacterial response, while sweet taste receptors are also located in the eyes to potentially reduce the chance of fluid leak associated with diabetic retinopathy.

The workshop will also explain how evolution has programmed us to desire sweet foods, and the messages they send to the brain which leave us wanting more.

Dr Havovi Chichger, Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences at ARU, said:

“We enjoy sugary foods because they stimulate the reward centre in the brain, the mesolimbic dopamine system. When we eat something sweet, our taste receptors are activated, this sends a nerve signal to the brain and we get the release of dopamine which is our ‘happy hormone’. This can become a learned activity – we need to keep eating sugar to have dopamine release.”

“Our sweet shop will be the perfect place to explore more about how we taste and what happens to our entire body when we sample different flavours and textures.”


The event will take place between 12noon and 4pm on Friday, 10 September at The Ideas Hub, formerly Top Shop, in High Chelmer Shopping Centre, Chelmsford. This is a drop-in event and places cannot be booked.

For further information, please visit https://britishsciencefestival.seetickets.com/event/the-physiological-sweet-shop/the-ideas-hub-formerly-topshop-/2023078