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Free sugar intake from snacks and beverages in Canadian preschool- and toddler-aged children: a cross-sectional study

BMC Nutr. 2023 Mar 8;9(1):44. doi: 10.1186/s40795-023-00702-3.


BACKGROUND: Excess consumption of free sugar (FS) increases the risk of dental caries and unhealthy weight gain. However, the contribution of snacks and beverages to young children’s FS intake is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to determine FS intake from snacks and beverages among preschool-aged Canadian children.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study examined baseline data from 267 children 1.5 to 5 y enrolled in the Guelph Family Health Study. Dietary assessment was completed over a 24-h period using ASA24-Canada-2016 to, 1) estimate the proportion of children whose FS intake from snacks and beverages consumed exceeded 5% total energy intake (TE) and 10% TE, and 2) identify the top snack and beverage sources of FS.

RESULTS: FS contributed 10.6 ± 6.9% TE (mean ± SD). 30 and 8% of children consumed ≥ 5% TE and ≥ 10% TE from snack FS, respectively. Furthermore, 17 and 7% of children consumed ≥ 5% TE and ≥ 10% TE from beverages FS, respectively. Snacks and beverages accounted for 49 ± 30.9% of FS energy. Top snack sources of FS (% children, children’s %TE from FS) were bakery products (55%, 2.4%), candy and sweet condiments (21%, 3.0%), and sugar-containing beverages (20%, 4.1%). Top sugar-containing beverage sources of FS (48%, 5.3%) were 100% fruit juice (22%, 4.6%) and flavored milk (11%, 3.1%).

CONCLUSIONS: Snacks and beverages contributed nearly half of FS intake among a sample of young children in Canada. Thus, long-term monitoring of snacking behavior and consumption of FS is warranted. These findings may help inform nutritional strategies and public policies to improve diet quality and FS intake in preschool-aged children.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The Clinical Trial Registry number is NCT02939261 from Date of Registration: October 20, 2016.

PMID:36890595 | DOI:10.1186/s40795-023-00702-3

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