Estimated sweetness in US diet among children and adults declined from 2001 to 2018: A serial cross-sectional surveillance study using NHANES 2001–2018
Kamil, A., Wilson, A. R., & Rehm, C. D. (2021). Estimated sweetness in US diet among children and adults declined from 2001 to 2018: A serial cross-sectional surveillance study using NHANES 2001–2018. Frontiers in Nutrition, 8, 1004. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.777857
An agreed-upon measure of total dietary sweetness is lacking hindering assessments of population-level patterns and trends in dietary sweetness. This cross-sectional study used 24-h dietary recall data for 74,461 participants aged ≥ 2 y from nine cycles (2001–2018) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to evaluate trends in the sweetness of the diet in the United States (US). LCS-containing items were matched to a sugar-sweetened counterpart (e.g., diet cola–regular cola or sucralose sugar). The matched pair was used to estimate the sugar equivalents from LCS-sweetened foods or beverages to estimate dietary level sweetness, which was described as grams of approximate sugar equivalent (ASE) per day. Trends in ASE were estimated overall and by subgroup, and trends were further disaggregated by food or beverage category. Overall, LCS sources contributed about 10.5% of ASE. Total ASE declined from 152 g/d to 117 g/d from 2001–2002 to 2017–2018 (p-trend < 0.001), with comparable declines in children and adults. Declines in total ASE were predominantly driven by beverages (−36.7% from 2001–2002 to 2017–2018) and tabletop sweeteners (−23.8%), but not food (−1.5%). Observed trends were robust to sensitivity analyses incorporating random, systematic, and sensory trial informed estimates of sweetness and also an analysis excluding possible under-reporters of dietary energy. This practical approach and underlying data may help researchers to apply the technique to other dietary studies to further these questions.