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Kameron researches ‘sweet tooth’ gene

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Kameron Young, 16, an international baccalaureate student at BHS, shares her research on genetics and sugar (Photograph supplied)

A teenage student exploring the science of taste can now reveal how she tracked down a potential genetic basis for the “sweet tooth”.

Kameron Young, an International Baccalaureate student at Bermuda High School, is offering a presentation on her academic research on Monday.

Her school project comes hot on the heels of the “sugar tax” implemented last month to tackle the island’s appetite for sugar.

The 16-year-old will speak with her mentor Carika Weldon, a lecturer in biomedical and medical sciences at De Montfort University in Leicester.

They will speak at the school’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, from 6pm to 7.30pm.

As part of her course, Kameron investigated a gene known as TAS2R38, linked to a person’s ability to taste bitterness.

Her project, which involved 100 volunteers, examined how the gene might affect a taste for sugar.

Kameron said she loved genetics and had grown intrigued by the idea, “especially since a sugar tax was to be implemented”.

The tax, which increased rates on items such as fizzy drinks and sweets, kicked in on October 1.

Kameron added: “I wanted to find out if there is a correlation between your genetics and your preference for sugar.”

Dr Weldon said that Kameron was the first Bermudian student to conduct such a study, “breaking the barrier between school projects and innovative biomedical research”.

“For Kameron to be able to obtain ethical approval from the Bermuda Hospitals Board with little to no help is commendable.”

Sugar consumption is a top cause of the island’s high rates of diabetes.

Linda Parker, the BHS principal, said the IB2 student had done “an outstanding job of linking her IB coursework and cutting-edge research with this real-life disease”.

Kameron’s presentation will explore her topic, methods and findings. Individual results will not be shared.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. To sign up, e-mail kamerons.lab@gmail.com

Carika Weldon, a lecturer in biomedical and medical studies at De Montfort University in Leicester (Photograph supplied)