Free Sugars Intake, Sources and Determinants of High Consumption among Australian 2-Year-Olds in the SMILE Cohort
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In the first 2 years of life, it is important to limit exposure to foods high in free sugars, in order to lay foundations for lifelong eating patterns associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease. Intake data at this age is limited, so compliance with recommendations is not known. This analysis describes free sugars intakes, food sources and determinants of high consumption among Australian children at 2 years of age. Free sugars intakes were estimated using a customized Food Frequency Questionnaire, and median usual free sugars intake at 2 years was 22.5 (Interquartile Range (IQR) 12.8–37.7) g/day, contributing a median 8% of the estimated energy requirement (EER). Based on the EER, most children (71.1%) exceeded the World Health Organization recommendation that <5% of energy should come from free sugars, with 38% of participants exceeding the <10% recommendation. Children from households with the greatest socioeconomic disadvantage were more likely to exceed the 10% recommendation (Prevalence Ratio (PR) 1.44, 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI) 1.13–1.84), and be in the top tertile for free sugars intake (PR 1.58, 95% CI 1.19–2.10) than the least disadvantaged. Main sources of free sugars were non-core foods, such as fruit juice, biscuits, cakes, desserts and confectionery; with yogurt and non-dairy milk alternatives the two notable exceptions. Improved efforts to reduce free sugars are needed from the introduction of solid food, with a particular focus on fruit juice and non-core foods.
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