Why We Love Sweets

The Halloween Temptation

Halloween is just around the corner. For many, ghosts and goblins aren’t the problem. The candy is. What lies behind the common craving for sweets?

The Story of a Species

Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari reviews the story of how, about 70,000 years ago, creatures of the species homo sapiens began to form cultures.hsmale

The cognitive revolution began about 70,000 years ago; the agricultural revolution about 12,000 years ago; and the industrial revolution only about 500 years ago.

Many fascinating insights are embedded in this story–including the answer to why it is we love sweets.

Its Not Your Fault

Why do we binge on sweet food? The answer is evolutionary. Harari writes of our ancient ancestors:

“In the savannahs and forests they inhabited, high-calorie sweets were extremely rare and food in general was in short supply. A typical forager 30,000 years ago had access to only one type hsfemaleof sweet food–ripe fruit. If a Stone Age woman came across a tree groaning with figs, the most sensible thing she could do was eat as many of them as possible on the spot, before the local baboon picked the tree bare. The instinct to gorge on high-calorie food is hard-wired into our genes.”

So there it is: the answer to it is so appealing for some to sneak into the kids’ Halloween candy when no one is looking.

Affluent societies suffer from an epidemic of obesity, and developing societies are following close behind. All because people are only doing what comes naturally.

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