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How much sugar do we eat

The average intakes of free sugars (non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES)) exceeded the recommendation of 10% of total energy, in all age/sex groups.

Children

Intake: In children aged 4-18 months the average intake of free sugars provided 4.3% of energy intake in the youngest group and 7.7% in the 12-18 month age group. While in young children under 4 years the average intake of free sugars provided of 11.9% of total energy. The highest average intakes were in children aged 4-10 years and 11-18 years (14.7% and 15.4% of total energy respectively). Intakes at the 97.5th percentile provided 25-30% of total energy intake.

The main contributor to free sugars intake for children aged 4 to 6 months and 7 to 9 months was the food group commercial infant foods. For children aged 10 to 18 months, the main contributor to free sugars was milk and milk products. For older children aged 11-18 years soft drinks was the largest single source, providing 30% of intake, with a further 10% of intake from fruit juice. In younger children aged 4-10 years soft drinks provided 17% of intake and fruit juice 13%. Cereals and cereal products provided a quarter of free sugars intake in children, mainly from added sugars in biscuits, buns, cakes and pastries and breakfast cereals; table sugar, preserves and confectionery provided a fifth of intake.

Adults

Adults: In adults aged 19-64 and older adults aged 65 years and over the average intake of free sugars provided 12.1% and 11.2% total energy respectively.

In adults (19-64 years) soft and alcoholic drinks and fruit juice combined provided a third of intake, table sugar, preserves and confectionery provided a quarter of intake (table sugar the largest source) and cereals and cereal products provided a fifth of intake. In older adults aged 65 years and over, the contribution from cereals and cereal products was higher and that from drinks was lower.

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