Topical Area: Nutritional Epidemiology
Objectives : The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend that Americans limit their added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of their total calories (energy) for the day, because the calories obtained from added sugars often come with low nutritional benefits. The research objective was to compare mean intakes of nutritious foods such as fruit, dairy, and whole grains by children grouped based on whether they met the DGA added sugars recommendation or not.
Children ages 2 to 19 years who had complete dietary intake data on day 1 of What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2015-2016 were included in the study. They were divided into two groups: (1) those who met the DGA added sugars recommendation; and (2) those who did not meet the recommendation. Energy and selected food group intakes of the two groups were estimated and compared using SAS-callable SUDAAN software, and a p-value less than 0.01 was considered as significantly different.
Results : There were 2901 children in the study. Only about one-third of all children (34.8 ±1.2 percent), met the added sugars recommendation, and household income did not impact the percentage of children meeting the recommendation. Forty-seven percent of 2-5 year old and 31 percent of 6-19 year old children met the recommendation. The estimated mean added sugars intake of the children who met the recommendation was considerably lower than those who did not meet the recommendation, 6.4±0.23 vs. 21.2±0.51 teaspoon equivalents (eq.), respectively. The children who met the recommendation had significantly lower energy intake than those who did not meet the recommendation, 1764±32 vs. 1924±30 kilocalories, respectively. In spite of their lower energy intake, children who met the recommendation had significantly higher intakes of total fruit, 1.3±0.05 vs. 0.8±0.05 cup eq.; total dairy, 2.1±0.12 vs. 1.8±0.08 cup eq.; and whole grains 1.0±0.07 vs. 0.8±0.04 ounce eq. than the other group. In other words, those who met the recommendation made better food choices by eating nutritious foods for lower energy intake
The study findings showed that high added sugars intake have the potential to replace nutritious foods and reduce the overall quality of the diet, in children.
Funding Sources : The study was funded by USDA, Agricultural Research Service.