Intake of Added Sugar in Malaysia: A Review

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016;25(2):227-240. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.2016.25.2.13

The term ‘added sugars’ refers to sugars and syrup added to foods during processing or preparation, and sugars and syrups added at the table. Calls to limit the daily intakes of added sugars and its sources arose from evidence analyzed by the WHO, the American Heart Association, and other organizations. The present review examined the best available evidence regarding levels of added sugar consumption among different age and sex groups in Malaysia and sources of added sugars. Information was extracted from food balance sheets, household expenditure surveys, nutrition surveys, and published studies. Varying results emerged, as nationwide information on intake of sugar and foods with added sugar were obtained at different times and used different assessment methods. Data from the 2003 Malaysian Adult Nutrition Survey (MANS) using food frequency questionnaires suggested that on average, Malaysian adults consumed 30 grams of sweetened condensed milk (equivalent to 16 grams of sugar) and 21 grams of table sugar per day, which together are below the WHO recommendation of 50 grams sugar for every 2000 kcal/day to reduce risk of chronic disease. Published studies suggested that, for both adults and the elderly, frequently consumed sweetened foods were beverages (tea or coffee) with sweetened condensed milk and added sugar. More accurate data should be obtained by conducting population-wide studies using biomarkers of sugar intake (e.g., 24-hour urinary sucrose and fructose excretion or serum abundance of stable C-13 isotope) to determine intake levels, and multiple 24 hour recalls to identify major food sources of added sugar.

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