Worldwide trends in sugars intake - stable or declining
Dietary intake of sugars is a controversial public health issue and published data relating to trends in sugars intake are relatively sparse. A recent review entitled "Worldwide trends in dietary sugars intake" written by Dr. Anna Wittekind and Dr. Janette Walton addresses this knowledge gap and found that dietary sugars consumption is declining or stable in many developed countries.
Published in Nutrition Research Reviews, this paper collated and analyzed national nutrition survey data from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and ten European countries, as these were the only countries to report estimates of sugars intake from national nutrition surveys at more than one point in time. Findings indicate that in the majority of population comparisons, estimated dietary sugars intake is either stable or decreasing. The trends were observed in both absolute (g/d) and relative (% energy) terms.
Trends in dietary sugars intake were examined by country for the whole population (where data permitted), and for specific or combined age and sex subpopulations. Authors noted that comparisons were not possible across countries due to different sugars terminology employed in different countries (e.g. "total sugars", "non-milk extrinsic sugars", "added sugars", "sucrose", "mono- and disaccharides", etc). The authors further suggest that a "consistent approach to estimation of dietary sugars intake from national nutrition surveys is required if more valid estimates of changes in dietary sugars intakes are required in the future".
Estimating trends in dietary intake data is integral to informing national nutrition policy and monitoring progress towards dietary guidelines. Sugars consumption in Canada was not discussed in this review because there has been only one national nutrition survey conducted in Canada (i.e. Canadian Community Health Survey 2004), thus Canada was unable to provide more than one time point to build the trend data.
Fortunately, the next round of the Canadian Community Health Survey is scheduled to commence in 2015, which will provide important data to evaluate the changes in sugars consumption in Canada over the past decade.
Nevertheless, Statistics Canada availability data suggest that added sugars consumption in Canada has been declining over the past 15 years, mainly reflecting a decline in caloric soft drink consumption.