That suggests the sweet tooth is more powerful in females than in males, and all that sugar leaves them less likely — and less able — to work it off. But why should that be the case?
Eckel says she doesn't know for sure, but the research suggests that the female hormone estrogen may be at work here.
"Female rats, just like women, have higher levels of estrogen than men," she says, and other research has indicated that estrogen can increase the preference for sweets.
"The take home message is, at this point, we think it may be related to the major sex hormone secreted by women, and it may be that this particular hormone increases our desire to eat sweets," Eckel says.
The complete answer isn't known, she adds, because research on overeating has been "almost exclusively on males."
So for now, if what holds true for rats also works for humans, women have more of a struggle against obesity than men because, well, they are women.
Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.