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Added sugar consumption in New Zealand

Presently there is no data on consumption of added sugar in New Zealand as the last national nutrition survey for adults (2008/09) and children (2002) analysed total sugar, sucrose and fructose only. Sucrose content is derived via chemical analysis and can only provide an approximation of total added sugars.

How much sucrose do NZ children eat?

The last NZ national children’s nutrition survey of children aged 5-14 years showed sucrose was the main type of sugar contributing to median usual total sugars intake:

Males 67g/day (12.4% total energy)

Females 61.1g/day (13.3% total energy)

Maori children had higher sucrose intakes (72g/day male, 69g/day females) than NZ European and other ethnic groups (66g/day male; 58g/day female), and Pacific children (56g/day male, 55.2g/day female).

Sources of sucrose in children’s diets

Sugar sweetened beverages, sugar and sweets are the major sources of added sucrose in children’s diets. The dietary sources of sucrose for children, based on 24 hour recall and allocation of all foods to food groups were:

26% Beverages (hot drinks, juices, cordial, soft drinks, water, powdered drinks, sports and energy drinks)

21% Sugar and sweets (syrups, confectionary, chocolate, jam, honey, jelly, sweet toppings, icing, ice blocks and artificial sweeteners)

11% Biscuits (Sweet biscuits - plain, chocolate coated, fruit filled, cream filled; crackers low fat <5%, medium and high fat >5%)

11% Fruit (fresh, canned, cooked and dried)

9% Dairy products (cream, sour cream, yoghurt, ice cream, and dairy-based dips)

7% Cakes and muffins (all cakes and muffins, slices, scones, pancakes, doughnuts, pastry, cake bars)

How much sucrose do adults eat?

The last national adult nutrition survey shows, similar to children, sucrose is also the most significant sugar contributing to the median usual daily intake of total sugars:

Overall 48g (9% total energy)

Males 55g/day (9% total energy)

Females 42g/day (9.5% total energy)

These represent an overall reduction in sucrose intake since the 1997 nutrition survey which reported a median intake of 55g.

There were differences between age groups, with younger people consuming more when comparing mean intakes.

Older males 71+ years: 45.9g/day (9.8% total energy)

Younger males 15-18 years: 71.8g/day (11% total energy)

Teenage girls 15-18 years: 62.7g/day (13.9% total energy)

Women 71 yrs and over: 33.5g/day (9.4%)

Sources of added sucrose in adult diets

Sugar and sweets are the major source of added sucrose in adult diets. The primary sources of sucrose in New Zealand adult diets were:

23% Sugar and sweets

16% Fruit (all fruit, fresh, canned, cooked, dried) (older age groups consumed more)

16% Non-alcoholic beverages (All teas, coffee and substitutes, hot chocolate drinks, juices, cordial, soft drinks, water, powdered drinks, sports and energy drinks)

7% Cakes and muffins (All cakes and muffins, slices, scones, pancakes, doughnuts, pastry)

6% Dairy products (cream, sour cream, yoghurt, dairy food, ice cream, dairy-based dips)

5% Biscuits

More data required

Dr Lisa Te Morenga and colleagues from the University of Otago have estimated free sugar intake, drawing from 2779 relevant foods from the 2006 and 2010 New Zealand food composition databases and the last New Zealand adult nutrition survey. Whilst it has not yet been published, they estimated a median free sugar intake of 57g/day in adults equating to 11.1% of total energy; a little above the WHO recommended limit of 10%. Australian intakes of free sugars have been estimated at 10.9% of energy.


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