Sugar’s Sweet Friends

By Rosalie Hancock and Beck Morissette
Junior Category (Grades 7-8)
Experiment | Statistics

BCVSF Note: The required ethics forms have been submitted for this project.

Sugar has been a huge part of our lives for centuries. Added sugar is in about 60 percent of the foods in a typical grocery store nowadays. Because of all the health risks associated with sugar, such as obesity, diabetes, and various heart risks, there have been alternatives made to substitute sugar for a healthier option. These alternative sweeteners (Artificial and Natural) have skyrocketed in usage in past years. The sweeteners are supposed to be an alternative to sugar without the health risks. We wanted to conduct this experiment to see if people could tell a difference and whether or not they had a preference. However, we also wanted to tie it to the health risks of these alternative sweeteners, and find out the actual truth about whether or not sweeteners are actually better for you.

The purpose of this experiment is to determine if people can tell the difference between foods that contain sugar and sugar-free foods and if so, which one they prefer.

We used 32 subjects in total; 4 adults over 40 with the rest being kids between the ages 12 and 15. We gave each subject a substance with sugar — paused for a palate cleanser — then gave them the sugar free version (in a randomized order). We used Vitamin Water Zero as our natural sweetener, and sugar free Jello for artificial. We also had a control group with both versions containing sugar.

Our hypothesis was that if someone is given a sugar-free food and food that contains sugar then they will be able to tell the difference, and that If someone is given a sugar free-food and food that contains sugar and they can tell the difference, then they will prefer the food containing sugar.

In conclusion, our results did not fully match our hypothesis. Primarily, we thought that people would be able to tell the difference. The majority (12/20) could tell the difference for Vitamin Water, but the majority (11/20) couldn’t for Jello. We didn’t make a separate hypothesis for Artificial vs Natural, which may have helped us in accuracy. We could have researched more on the taste of natural and artificial, to make our hypothesis for this more accurate. However, overall this hypothesis was not correct.
Our next hypothesis was that, if people could tell the difference, they would prefer the one with sugar. This hypothesis was also half correct, as more people (7/12) preferred the sugar-free vitamin water, but more people (6/9) preferred the jello that contained sugar. We predicted that people would prefer the food with sugar, but they didn’t all the time.

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