December 12, 2017

Health Canada’s Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion recently published an article “Estimating the Sugars Content of Diets that Follow Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide” in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research.

This study estimated the amount of total and free sugars in 8,000 simulated diets that were consistent with Canada’s Food Guide (i.e. only included foods from Tiers 1 and 2 based on The  Classification of Foods in the Canadian Nutrient  File According to Eating Well with Canada’s  Food Guide). The selection of foods in the simulated diets was based on foods commonly consumed by Canadians, as determined by the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2004.

  • The simulated diets for Canadians 2 years and older following a dietary pattern consistent with 2007 Canada's Food Guide had an average of 21% of energy from   total sugars  and 7% of energy from free sugars.
  • The simulated diets for both males and females indicated that children and adolescents (9-18 years of age) had the highest mean % of energy from free sugars (10% and 9% respectively).

The 2001b Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) database was used for the analysis, which provides grams of total sugars—the sum of the individual monosaccharides (galactose, glucose, and fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose and maltose). Free sugars content is not available in this database; therefore, for foods containing both naturally-occurring sugars and free sugars (e.g. sweetened yogurt), the CNF value for total sugars was used to represent free sugars. This method, according to the authors, is a primary limitation since it “overestimates, rather than underestimates, the amount of free sugars”.

With the recent release of CCHS 2015 data and the updated 2010 Canadian Nutrient File, the Canadian Sugar Institute looks forward to an update of such an analysis, which will better reflect Canadians’ most recent consumption patterns and current marketplace food composition.