Publication Details

Gupta, A., Smithers, L. G., Braunack-Mayer, A. & Harford, J. (2018). How much free sugar do Australians consume? Findings from a national survey. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 42 (6), 533-540.


Objective: To identify the characteristics of Australian adults exceeding the World Health Organization’s free sugar (FS) intake recommendations of <10% and compare the sources of FS among those exceeding (high FS consumers) and complying (low FS consumers) with the recommendations. Method: Nationally weighted data from the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey 2011-12 was used to describe the proportions of FS consumption and sources of FS among adults aged ≥18 years (n=9,435) across demographic, socioeconomic and health behavioural subgroups. Six categories of food groups likely to contain FS were generated and analysed. Results: Almost half of all adults (47%) were high FS consumers. More than one-third of adults in each demographic, socioeconomic and health behaviour subgroup were high FS consumers. Of the food groups containing FS, beverages contributed the most FS (37%), particularly for young adults (48%). High FS consumers obtained twice as much FS from beverages (42%) than low FS consumers (21%). A reverse age gradient was observed for the FS sourced from beverages. Conclusions: Almost half the Australians surveyed exceeded the FS intake recommendations. Sugary beverages were the largest source of FS, with young adults being the highest consumers. Implications for public health: Whole population strategies targeting beverages could possibly reduce Australia’s high sugar intake.



Link to publisher version (DOI)