Current perspectives on global sugars consumption: definitions, recommendations, population intakes, challenges and future direction

Janette Walton, Haley Bell, Roberta Re, Anne P Nugent

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Abstract

Currently there is considerable emphasis on the relationship between dietary sugars consumption and various health outcomes, with some countries and regions implementing national sugar reduction campaigns. This has resulted in significant efforts to quantify dietary sugars intakes, to agree on terms to describe dietary sugars and to establish associated recommendations. However, this information is infrequently collated on a global basis and in a regularised manner. The present review provides context regarding sugars definitions and recommendations. It provides a global review of the available data regarding dietary sugars intake, considering forms such as total, free and added sugars. A comprehensive breakdown of intakes is provided by age-group, country and sugars form. This analysis shows that free sugars intakes as a percentage of total energy (%E) are the highest for children and adolescents (13-14%E) and the lowest for older adults (8%E). This trend across lifecycle stages has also been observed for added sugars. The available data also suggest that while some reductions in sugars intake are observed in a few individual studies, overall intakes of free/added sugars remain above recommendations. However, any wider conclusions are hampered by a lack of detailed high quality data on sugars intake, especially in developing countries. Furthermore, there is a need for harmonisation of terms describing sugars (ideally driven by public health objectives) and for collaborative efforts to ensure that the most up-to-date food composition data are used to underpin recommendations and any estimates of intake or modelling scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages62
JournalNutrition Research Reviews
Early online date09 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 09 Aug 2021

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