Location: Food Surveys Research GroupTitle: Sweet Foods Consumption by Adults in the U.S.: What We Eat In America, NHANES 2015-2018
Submitted to: Worldwide Web Site: Food Surveys Research Group
Publication Type: Research Technical Update
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/10/2020
Publication Date: 11/12/2020
Citation: Sebastian, R.S., Enns, C.W., Martin, C.L., Goldman, J.D., Moshfegh, A.J. 2020. Sweet Foods Consumption by Adults in the U.S.: What We Eat In America, NHANES 2015-2018. Worldwide Web Site: Food Surveys Research Group. Available: https://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/fsrg/wweia/dbrief.
Interpretive Summary: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting intake of sweets. Current information about consumption of sweet foods is needed. We used the most recent nationwide survey data to study intake of sweet foods by adults age 20 years and over. Sweet foods included snack/meal bars, sweet bakery products, candy, and other desserts and excluded fruits and all kinds of beverages. In general, anyone who reported a sweet food was considered a “reporter,” and anyone who did not was considered a “non-reporter.” We found that more than 6 in 10 adults (61% of all adults) had a sweet food on the survey day. The most common type of sweet food consumed was sweet bakery products. Sweet foods were eaten by higher percentages of adults age 60 years and over than of younger adults, of non-Hispanic (NH) whites than of NH blacks and NH Asians, and of those with income over 130% of poverty than of those with lower income. Reporters of sweet foods had a higher total daily energy intake than non-reporters. For reporters, sweet foods provided 16% of total energy intake, 36% of added sugars, 22% of saturated fat, and 15% or less of vitamins and minerals. This new look at sweet foods consumption can inform policymakers, dietitians, nutritionists, and consumers about how these foods impact the dietary intake of the U.S. population.
Technical Abstract: For decades, Federal nutrition guidance has included recommendations to limit consumption of foods and beverages high in added sugars and saturated fats. However, these items have continued to contribute substantially to dietary intake. The objectives of this study were to provide current information about sweet foods consumption among U.S. adults, including its prevalence and contributions to energy and nutrients, and to compare energy intakes between sweet foods reporters and non-reporters. One day of dietary intake from 9,759 individuals (4,722 men and 5,037 women) age 20 years and over participating in What We Eat In America, NHANES 2015-2018 was analyzed. Pregnant and lactating women were excluded. Sweet foods included four groups based on the What We Eat In America Food Categories – namely, snack/meal bars, sweet bakery products, candy, and other desserts – and excluded fruit and all types of beverages. An individual who reported one or more sweet foods on the intake day was considered a “reporter.” Analysis of variance and/or two-sided t-tests were used to compare percentages consuming sweet foods by selected demographic variables and to compare energy intakes between reporters and non-reporters. Logistic regression was used to identify linear trends in sweet foods consumption by age group within sex and by income group within age group. On any given day in 2015-2018, 61% of adults in the U.S. consumed a sweet food. Sweet bakery products were the mostly commonly consumed sweet foods group (45% of all sweet foods reports). Prevalence of sweet foods consumption did not vary by sex. A positive linear trend by age was observed for all adults and for men and women separately (p<0.001). Prevalence was higher among non-Hispanic (NH) whites than among NH blacks and NH Asians and among those with income over 130% of poverty than among those in the lowest income group. Further, a positive linear trend in prevalence of sweet foods consumption by income was found among adults age>/=20 years and age>/=60years. Among all adults, mean total daily energy intake was 336 kilocalories higher for reporters than for non-reporters. For reporters, sweet foods contributed 16% of total daily energy, 36% of added sugars, 22% of saturated fats, and 15% or less of all vitamins and minerals studied. The daily energy contributions of sweet foods to intakes of those who reported them ranged from 161 kilocalories for candy to 372 kilocalories for sweet bakery products. Consuming sweet foods is common among U.S. adults. This report can inform nutrition guidance efforts to improve adults’ food choices and thus enhance overall dietary intake.