Sugar and fat intake among children in Scotland: what is needed to reach the dietary targets?

Public Health Nutr. 2010 Aug;13(8):1286-94. doi: 10.1017/S1368980009992175. Epub 2009 Dec 8.


Objective: To assess the intake and sources of non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) and fat among children in Scotland in relation to socio-economic status, and to estimate the changes in diet required to achieve recommended levels of intake.

Design: Cross-sectional survey with diet assessed by semi-quantitative FFQ.

Setting: Eighty postcode sectors across Scotland.

Subjects: Children (n 1398) aged 3-17 years recruited from the Child Benefit register (76 % of those contacted).

Results: The mean intake of NMES of 17.4 (95 % CI 17.0, 17.8) % food energy was considerably higher than the UK recommended population average of 11 % food energy. The mean intake of total fat of 32.9 (95 % CI 32.7, 33.2) % food energy met the recommended population average of no more than 35 % food energy, while the mean intake of SFA of 13.8 (95 % CI 13.7, 14.0) % food energy was above the recommended population average of no more than 11 % food energy. Despite clear socio-economic gradients in the mean daily consumption of many 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' food groups, socio-economic differences in NMES as a percentage of food energy were limited and there was no significant variation in the intake of total fat or SFA as a percentage of food energy with socio-economic status. Modelling of the data showed that removing sugar-sweetened soft drinks and increasing fruit and vegetable intake by 50 % would not restore the intake of NMES and SFA to recommended levels.

Conclusions: Major changes in the intake of many food groups will be required to bring the NMES and saturated fat intake in line with current dietary recommendations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / standards*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Scotland
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Fatty Acids