Added sugar: Nutritional knowledge and consumption pattern of a principal driver of obesity and diabetes among undergraduates in UAE

Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Jul-Aug;13(4):2579-2584. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.06.031. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Background: Recently, youth intake of added sugar has been growing. The incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) has risen dramatically in parallel with these changes. Excess added sugar is a key risk factor for weight gain and T2DM in many cohort studies. The current study was implemented to examine the nutritional knowledge, attitude and practice pattern among UAE undergraduates.

Method: Random sampling was used to approach 400 undergraduate students from UAE. The data analysis was performed by using SPSS version 24. A correlation analysis was performed using Pearson and Spearman correlation tests. Statistical analysis was conducted using Chi-square test, T-test, and Kruskal Wallis test.

Results: Added sugar consumption is widely prevalent among university students in UAE. Only 19% of the enrolled sample scored high nutritional knowledge level and 56% of the students were considered heavy consumers. White sugar was the preferred added sweeteners among 90% of the sample.

Conclusion: Our study outcomes recommend that strategies that can successfully reduce added sugar might be a significant stage concerning reversing the devastating escalating trends in diabetes, obesity, and promoting health of all populations in UAE.

Keywords: Added sugars; Diabetes; Obesity; Sugar-sweetened beverages; Sugary drinks.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Dietary Sugars / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • United Arab Emirates / epidemiology
  • Universities
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Sugars
  • Sweetening Agents