Brits consume more sugar than thought

July 20, 2017, University of Reading
Brits consume more sugar than thought
Credit: University of Reading

Eating more sugar is linked to obesity, the first study using objective measures of sugar intake has found.

The new paper published in PLOS ONE investigated tell-tale signs of intake found in urine and found a significant association between high sugar diets and measures of obesity.

Notably, the paper is the first to investigate a representative sample of the English population only using objective measures of intake and did not rely on information given by study participants. Those results showed that current methods of measuring sugar consumption are particularly inaccurate.

Calculating sugar intake using 'biomarkers' in urine, the researchers found sugar intake to be up to 50% higher than in similar studies using diet questionnaires. The researchers note that previous studies show that often underestimate – or underreport – their sugar intake.

Dr Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Reading said:

"This paper shows that the link between sugar consumption and obesity is very strong, and that it is not just because people who eat more also eat more sugar.

"We know from other studies that urinary biomarkers are an accurate way of measuring sugar intake. What we have concluded from this national study is that self-reporting of sugar consumption is unreliable so sugar intake can be measured reliably only with biomarkers. Interestingly, we did not find the same differences for : the results from our study are similar to those from other national surveys using self-reporting. This means people either know or are happy to say how much protein they eat. Conversely, we calculated that people were consuming considerably higher levels of sugar than they were reporting.

"Because of the difficulties of measuring sugar intake, many studies that rely on self-reporting have actually found that high sugar intake is linked with lower obesity risk. Our studies show clearly that obese people tend to consume more sugar; this is not only because they consume overall more food, but they also consume a higher proportion of that food as sugar."

Using data from participants from the 2005 Health Survey for England (HSE 2005), the study involved a nationally-representative sample of the general population aged 19 to 64 years living in England. Overall, 498 survey participants (200 men, 298 women), aged 19 and over, who provided a 24-hour urine sample were identified and included in the study.

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Director of Research Funding at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

"The new, more accurate way of measuring in this study shows that many people are consuming more sugar than they realise. It also highlights the detrimental effect too much sugar can have on a person's .

"Obesity is a huge global burden as it increases the risk of many diseases, including 11 common cancers. The study emphasises the urgent need to prioritise reducing if we are to tackle ."

Explore further: High sugar consumption linked to obesity, research finds

More information: Rachel Campbell et al. Association between urinary biomarkers of total sugars intake and measures of obesity in a cross-sectional study, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179508

Related Stories

High sugar consumption linked to obesity, research finds

March 17, 2015
People who eat more sugar are much more likely to be obese than those who eat less, according to a landmark finding by University of Reading scientists.

Sugar intake during pregnancy is associated with allergy and allergic asthma in children

July 5, 2017
High maternal sugar intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of allergy and allergic asthma in the offspring, according to an early study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) involving almost 9,000 mother-child ...

Researchers say focusing on sugar in the fight against global obesity could be misleading

July 13, 2016
Scientists from the University of Glasgow have concluded that focusing health messages on sugar in isolation may mislead consumers on the need to also reduce overall calories, including those from fat.

Recommendations set out for food industry to reduce sugar

March 31, 2017
New voluntary guidelines have been released to help reduce the amount of sugar in foods eaten by children by 2020.

Research provides new information on cancer and sugar-sweetened beverages link

October 3, 2016
A study conducted by researchers at LSU Health New Orleans suggests that age is an important factor in the association between cancer and sugar-sweetened beverages and recommends that intervention programs to reduce consumption ...

Study of schoolchildren's soft drink consumption patterns suggests taxing sugar sweetened soft drinks could help

May 18, 2017
A study of the soft drink consumption patterns of more than 1000 schoolchildren presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal (17-20 May) shows that overweight and obese children tend to drink more ...

Recommended for you

Accurate measurements of sodium intake confirm relationship with mortality

June 21, 2018
Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, ...

Fans of yoga therapy have yet to win over doctors

June 21, 2018
Yoga practitioners often tout the unique health benefits of the ancient discipline—from relieving stress and pain to improving vascular health—but most doctors remain sceptical in the absence of hard proof.

Fruit and vegetables linked to changes in skin colour, new research finds

June 21, 2018
Skin colour in young Caucasian men is strongly linked to high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, new research by Curtin University has found.

What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more

June 20, 2018
Is your iPad being a literal pain in the neck?

Medicaid work requirements and health savings accounts may impact people's coverage

June 20, 2018
Current experimental approaches in Medicaid programs—including requirements to pay premiums, contribute to health savings accounts, or to work—may lead to unintended consequences for patient coverage and access, such ...

Introduction of alcohol found to adversely impact fertility rates in hunter-gatherer community

June 19, 2018
Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a research director with the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found that the introduction of alcohol to a Baka pygmy hunter-gatherer society caused fertility rates to fall. In his ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.