Oral Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting

Apparent consumption of refined sugar in Australia (1938-2011) (#37)

Tom J McNeill 1 , Bill S Shrapnel 2
  1. Green Pool Commodity Specialists, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  2. Shrapnel Nutrition Consulting, Orange, NSW, Australia

Background: The Australian Bureau of Statistics discontinued collection of apparent consumption data for refined sugars in 1998/9. The objectives of this study were to update this data series and to determine whether it reliably reflects consumption of refined sugars, defined as sucrose in the forms of refined or raw sugar, or liquified sugars manufactured for human consumption.

Methods: The study used the same methodology as that used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to derive a refined sugars consumption estimate each year until the collection was discontinued. Sales by Australian refiners, refined sugars imports and the net balance of refined sugars contained in foods imported into, and exported from, Australia were used to calculate total refined sugars use for each year up to 2011. Per capita consumption figures were then derived.

Results: During the period 1938-2011, apparent consumption of refined sugars in Australia fell 13.1% from 48.3 kg/head to 42.0 kg/head (R2=0.74). Between the 1950s and the 1970s apparent consumption was relatively stable at about 50 kg per person. In the shorter period 1970-2011 refined sugars consumption fell 16.5% from 50.3 kg/head to 42.0 kg/head though greater variability was evident (R2=0.53).

Conclusions: These findings are consistent with a study showing sales of sugar-sweetened beverages – the largest single source of sugar in the Australian diet – fell substantially between 1997 and 2011. The results are also appear consistent with the findings of the Australian Health Survey which showed small falls in total sugars consumption, in men and women, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of energy since 1995. Secondary analyses of this survey are underway. The limited variability of the extended apparent consumption series and its consistency with other lines of evidence indicate that it is a reliable dataset that reflects declining intake of refined sugars in Australia.