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The genetic consequences of our sweet tooth

First reported in 1956, hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI) illustrates vividly how interactions between genes and nutrients can influence taste preferences; the disease also reflects the ascendancy of sucrose and fructose as energy sources and as the world’s principal sweeteners. However, HFI is not the only genetic ill to have emerged from our obsession with sugar: the slave trade, which had such a key part in the development of the sugar industry, also included major genetic consequences in its haunting legacy.

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