Estimating trends in dietary intake data is integral to informing national nutrition policy and monitoring progress towards dietary guidelines. Dietary intake of sugars is a controversial public health issue and guidance in relation to recommended intakes is particularly inconsistent. Published data relating to trends in sugars intake are relatively sparse. The purpose of the present review was to collate and review data from national nutrition surveys to examine changes and trends in dietary sugars intake. Only thirteen countries (all in the developed world) appear to report estimates of sugars intake from national nutrition surveys at more than one point in time. Definitions of dietary sugars that were used include ‘total sugars’, ‘non-milk extrinsic sugars’, ‘added sugars’, sucrose' and ‘mono- and disaccharides’. This variability in terminology across countries meant that comparisons were limited to within countries. Hence trends in dietary sugars intake were examined by country for the whole population (where data permitted), and for specific or combined age and sex subpopulations. Findings indicate that in the majority of population comparisons, estimated dietary sugars intake is either stable or decreasing in both absolute (g/d) and relative (% energy) terms. An increase in sugars intake was observed in few countries and only in specific subpopulations. In conclusion, the findings from the present review suggest that, in the main, dietary sugars intake are decreasing or stable. A consistent approach to estimation of dietary sugars intake from national nutrition surveys is required if more valid estimates of changes in dietary sugars intakes are required in the future.
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