The feasibility of reducing free sugar intake to 5% of daily total energy intake through provision of guidelines alone: An intervention study within a Scottish population.
Consumption of free sugars is associated with excess energy intake, potentially leading to obesity, and the onset of dental caries. UK government recommendations state that the population should limit their intake of free sugars to 5% of daily total energy intake (TEI). This represents a reduction in the average adult and child consumptions, currently around 11% and 14% respectively. Variations in sugar terminology, food industry interests, food nutritional labelling clarity and habitual behaviour all represent barriers to achieving the recommended level. This pilot study presents an intervention of 13 adult subjects undertaking a two-week programme recording dietary intakes at baseline and then at two weeks, during an attempt to reduce free sugars to 5% TEI using advice available to the general public. Changes in free sugar intake as well as other macronutrients will be analysed to test the following hypotheses: 1. That reduction of free sugars intake to 5% TEI is possible using available guidelines and 2. Assuming a statistically significant change in free sugar intake, there will be no corresponding change in fat intake levels. The intervention resulted in significant reductions of total sugar (g), p= 0.002; free sugars (% TEI), p= 0.025; free sugars (g), p= 0.023. Fat intakes and TEI did not change significantly. The study concludes that individuals can target sugar specifically for reduction and that 5% TEI from free sugar may be possible for a UK free-living population via existing dietary advice. However, caution is required due to potential differences between the demographic properties of the study cohort and the UK population.