Background: Previous studies have suggested that interventions to lower dietary fat content and improved fat quality lead to a compensatory increase in sucrose content.
Objective: The purpose of this work was to determine what associations exist between sucrose intake and intake of nutrients, intake of specific foods, and growth in children aged 13 months to 9 years of age in the prospective, randomized Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project.
Subjects and methods: Nutrient intake and food consumption were evaluated annually at ages 13 months through 9 years by using food records. Altogether, 543 children were divided into 3 groups according to mean sucrose intake: constantly high sucrose intake (highest 10%), constantly low sucrose intake (lowest 10%), and average sucrose intake (80%). Absolute and relative weights and heights were recorded at 7, 13, and 24 months of age and annually thereafter until 9 years old.
Results: The high sucrose-intake group exceeded the recommended sucrose intake (<10% of energy intake, World Health Organization) already at the age of 2 years. Energy and total fat intake did not differ between the sucrose-intake groups. Children with low and average sucrose intake consumed more protein and had a better dietary fat quality than children with high sucrose intake. They also tended to receive more vitamin E, niacin, calcium, iron, zinc, and dietary fiber than children who consumed a high sucrose diet. Children in the low sucrose-intake group consumed more grains, vegetables, and dairy products than the other children. Sugar intake had no direct association with obesity, but weight, height, and BMI of children differed between the sucrose-intake groups between 7 months and 9 years of age.
Conclusions: In children aged 13 months to 9 years, long-term low sucrose intake is associated with better nutrient intake and growth than high sucrose intake.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00223600.