Dietary Intake and Food Sources of Added Sugar in the Australian Population

Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 14;115(5):868-77. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515005255. Epub 2016 Jan 22.


Previous studies in Australian children/adolescents and adults examining added sugar (AS) intake were based on now out-of-date national surveys. We aimed to examine the AS and free sugar (FS) intakes and the main food sources of AS among Australians, using plausible dietary data collected by a multiple-pass, 24-h recall, from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey respondents (n 8202). AS and FS intakes were estimated using a previously published method, and as defined by the WHO, respectively. Food groups contributing to the AS intake were described and compared by age group and sex by one-way ANOVA. Linear regression was used to test for trends across age groups. Usual intake of FS (as percentage energy (%EFS)) was computed using a published method and compared with the WHO cut-off of <10%EFS. The mean AS intake of the participants was 60·3 (SD 52·6) g/d. Sugar-sweetened beverages accounted for the greatest proportion of the AS intake of the Australian population (21·4 (sd 30·1)%), followed by sugar and sweet spreads (16·3 (SD 24·5)%) and cakes, biscuits, pastries and batter-based products (15·7 (sd 24·4)%). More than half of the study population exceeded the WHO's cut-off for FS, especially children and adolescents. Overall, 80-90% of the daily AS intake came from high-sugar energy-dense and/or nutrient-poor foods. To conclude, the majority of Australian adults and children exceed the WHO recommendation for FS intake. Efforts to reduce AS intake should focus on energy-dense and/or nutrient-poor foods.

Keywords: %EFS percentage energy from free sugars; Added sugar; Australian Health Survey; Australian population; Food sources; Free sugar; NNPAS National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey; NNS Australian National Nutrition Survey; National surveys; Total sugars.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Carbohydrates