Poster Presentation Australian Diabetes Society and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association Annual Scientific Meeting 2014

The Australian Paradox is confirmed: updated evidence that refined sugars consumption is declining (#305)

Jennie C Brand-Miller 1 , Alan W Barclay 2
  1. University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Diabetes Australia NSW, Sydney

The specific role of refined sugars in the obesity epidemic is contentious. Up to 2009, different lines of evidence indicated a steady decline in refined sugar consumption by Australians since 1980. In the present analysis, we updated our previous systematic literature review to include papers published between 2009 and 2014 and incorporated publications and data issued by government, academia and industry. The recent Australian National Nutrition Survey (1) indicated a 9.5% decrease in the absolute intake of total sugars (added + naturally occurring) between 1995 to 2011, and a 3.5% decrease in the percentage of energy derived from total sugars (from 19.9% to 19.2%). Added sugar from soft drinks, flavoured mineral waters, energy and electrolyte drinks decreased from 14.4 g/day to 13.5 g/ day, although the percent of energy remained the same (2.5% of total energy). Using ABS methodology, Green Pool Commodity Specialists updated the original Australian Bureau of Statistics data series (including the sugar in imported processed food), showing that refined sugar consumption per capita fell 16%, from 50 kg/head in 1970 to 42 kg/head in 2011 (2). Within this period, intake fell as low as 38 kg/head in 1998 but rose to 46 kg/head in 2004 before falling again. National grocery sales data (3) showed that the refined sugar contribution from water-based beverages fell 17%, from 9.2 to 7.6 kg per person between 1995 and 2011. The same dataset indicated that low-income households purchased less soft drink than middle- and high-income households. Three independent sets of data therefore confirm a decline in the intake of total sugars, refined sugars, and added sugars contributed by sugar-sweetened beverages, by the average Australian. 

  1. 1. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-2012 [database on the Internet]. 2014.
  2. Green Pool Commodity Specialists. Sugar consumption in Australia. A statistical update. 2012.
  3. Levy GS, Shrapnel WS. Quenching Australia's thirst: A trend analysis of water-based beverage sales from 1997 to 2011. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2014:n/a-n/a