Free sugars intake, sources and determinants of high consumption among Australian 2-year-olds in the SMILE cohort

Gemma Devenish, Rebecca Golley, Aqif Mukhtar, Andrea Begley, Diep Ha, Loc Do, Jane A. Scott

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • 24‐h recall
  • 2‐day food record
  • Complementary feeding
  • Dietary intakes
  • Early childhood
  • Food frequency questionnaire
  • Food sources
  • Free sugars
  • Sociodemographic determinants


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