Four on ten adults consume too much free sugars
Excessive sugar intake is pointed out as a public health issue, especially because of its involvement in weight gain. In addition, several studies have suggested that high intakes of added sugars are associated with a poorer diet quality. One of the goals of this study was to characterize the diet of French adults with excessive free sugar intake. WHO recommends a reduced intake of free sugars throughout the life course. In both adults and children, WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars (defined as added sugar, but also sugars from fruit juices and concentrates) to less than 10% of total energy intake. The authors examined the diet of 1.717 French adults, according to their free-sugar intake, as acceptable (≤ 10 % of energy – FS-ACCEPTABLE) or excessive (> 10 % energy – FS-EXCESS). It appears that the “excess” group, which represents 41 % of the population, had a lower quality diet and consumes more calories, particularly in snacks and beverages.
Yogurt may improve diet quality
The second goal of the study was to determine the minimum and specific dietary changes, needed to achieve a balanced, nutritionally adequate diet, both in people with acceptable and excessive free sugars intake. Overall, the models were ensuring that a broad set of 33 nutritional recommendations were met without changing the energy level. They found that in both groups the main dietary changes to meet nutritional targets were increases in fresh fruits, starchy foods, water, hot beverages and plain yogurts, and decreases in mixed dishes/sandwiches, meat/eggs/fish and cheese. At the yogurt-category level, for both FS-ACCEPTABLE and FS-EXCESS individuals, plain yogurts significantly increased for both groups (respectively + 10 g and + 7 g/day), whereas sweet yogurts increased significantly only for FS-ACCEPTABLE individuals (+ 7 g/ day). In other words, despite their free sugar content, the model selected sweet yogurts as a source to favor regarding its high nutrient density.
Additional changes for people, who consume too many free sugars, include more vegetables and less sugar-sweetened beverages, sweet products and fruit juices.
In conclusion, the diet quality of French adults with excessive intakes of free sugars can be optimized by food changes, like more yogurt consumption, that do not overly challenge their eating habits. Such results do confirm past data coming from another study showing that favoring high nutrient dense foods like yogurt will help individuals in this population reach nutritional adequacy.
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