Added sugars are often viewed as ‘empty calories’, negatively impacting micronutrient intakes, yet reviews consider the evidence inconclusive. This study aimed to quantify associations between dietary added sugars (as a percentage of energy) and micronutrient intake and biochemical status in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Using data from 1688 British children aged 4–18 years who completed 7 d weighed dietary records in 1997, micronutrient intakes were examined across quintiles of added sugars. After excluding low energy reporters, mean dietary intakes of most nutrients exceeded the reference nutrient intake, except for zinc. Compared with quintile 1 (9 % added sugars), high consumers in quintile 5 (23 % added sugars) had micronutrient intakes ranging from 24 % lower to 6 % higher (mean 14 % lower). Zinc intakes in quintile 1 v. quintile 5 averaged 93 % v. 78 % of reference nutrient intake; magnesium 114 % v. 94 %; iron 115 % v. 100 %; and vitamin A 111 % v. 92 %, respectively. Plasma levels of magnesium, zinc and carotenoids did not vary across quintiles, but weak negative correlations were observed with serum ferritin and transferrin saturation. Plasma selenium was inversely correlated with added sugars (r − 0·17; P < 0·0001) but there was no association with glutathione peroxidase. The impact of added sugars on micronutrient intakes appears modest overall but may have relevance for children consuming inadequate amounts of nutrient-rich foods coupled with a diet high in added sugars (approximately 23 %). Further work is needed to explore the impact of different sources of added sugars and to refine assessments of inadequate intakes and status.
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