European children's sugar intake on weekdays versus weekends: the IDEFICS study

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To compare the intake of total sugars, foods and drinks rich in added sugar, and energy in children on weekdays (Monday-Thursday), Fridays and weekends.

METHODS:

Dietary intake (g, kJ, energy %) was assessed using a computerized 24-h recall method in a sample of 2- to 9-year-old children from Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden who were participating in the IDEFICS baseline study (2007-2008). Analyses were performed in 9497 children by selecting one 24-h recall per child (for comparison of weekdays vs weekends, and Fridays vs weekdays and weekends). Selected stratified analyses were performed by country and age group.

RESULTS:

Intake of total sugars exceeded 20 energy % in all countries but one. In the non-stratified analyses, the intakes of total sugars and foods and drinks rich in added sugar were found to be higher on weekends compared with weekdays (both P <0.001), and intakes on Fridays were a mix between intakes on weekdays and weekends. Energy intake did not differ between weekdays and weekends. Results were somewhat heterogeneous, both across countries and age groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

High intake of sugar remains an important nutritional problem in children of many European countries. Interventions aiming to prevent this diet pattern may optimize their impact by targeting dietary habits on Fridays and weekends. Furthermore, when conducting dietary assessment in children, data from weekends and Fridays in combination with a selection of Mondays to Thursdays are needed to capture habitual sugar intake. Age and dietary cultures should also be considered in dietary intervention and assessment as effect modifications were seen for both age and country.

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