Dietary sugar intake among preschool-aged children: a cross-sectional study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Excessive intake of sugar in young children is a public health concern. Our study objectives were to examine intakes of total, free and added sugar among preschool-aged children and to investigate their associations with body weight, body mass index Z-scores, percent fat mass and waist circumference. METHODS: The cross-sectional cohort study included preschool-aged children between 1.5 and 5 years of age, enrolled in pilot studies of the Guelph Family Health Study, Guelph, Ontario, from 2014 to 2016. Daily intake of total sugar was determined using a food processor software; daily intakes of free and added sugar, and food sources were determined through manual inspection of 3-day food records. Anthropometric measures were completed by trained research staff. We used linear regression models with generalized estimating equations to estimate associations between sugar intakes and anthropometric measures. RESULTS: We included 109 children (55 girls and 54 boys) in 77 families. Mean daily intakes were 86 (standard deviation [SD] 26) g for total sugar, 31 (SD 15) g for free sugar and 26 (SD 13) g for added sugar. Of participants, 80% (n = 87) had intakes of free sugar greater than 5% of their daily energy intake. The most frequent food sources of free and added sugar were bakery products. A weak inverse association between free sugar intake (kcal/1000 kcal) and waist circumference (cm) (β = -0.02, 95% confidence interval -0.04 to -0.0009) was found, but no significant associations were noted between sugar intake and other anthropometric measures. INTERPRETATION: Most of the preschool-aged children in this study had free sugar intakes greater than current recommendations; overall, their total, free and added sugar intakes were not associated with the anthropometric measures. This study can be used to inform policy development for sugar intake in young children and apprise early intervention programs.


  • Mahajan, Anisha
  • Yu, Jessica
  • Hogan, Jaimie L
  • Jewell, Kira
  • Carriero, Alex
  • Annis, Angela
  • Sadowski, Adam
  • Darlington, Gerarda
  • Buchholz, Andrea
  • Duncan, Alison M
  • Haines, Jess
  • Ma, David WL

publication date

  • July 2021