January 13, 2017

On January 12, 2017, researchers from Public Health Ontario and University of Waterloo published a descriptive analysis of added sugars in packaged foods and beverages available at one major Canadian grocery chain. Upon review of the paper, the nutrition professionals at the Canadian Sugar Institute Nutrition Information Service issued the following statement, which was included in articles and television news segments by CTV News and Global News
 
The Canadian Sugar Institute welcomes and reviews new research information related to sugars and health.
 
It is important to point out that this particular study, “Added sugar in the packaged foods and beverages available at a major Canadian retailer in 2015: a descriptive analysis” has a number of limitations:
  • The study only offers a description of what packaged foods are available in one major grocery store chain. It is not reflective of the amount of packaged goods actually purchased; in fact, only 58% of the products analyzed in this study were actually sold during the study period.
  • Because the study is limited to pre-packaged foods, it is not reflective of all foods sold in the grocery store, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, raw ingredients, bulk foods, bakery items, etc.
  • The study does not provide information on the wide range of food choices Canadians make beyond grocery stores, such as in local stores, restaurants and farmers’ markets, and is not reflective of the type and quantity of foods they actually consume.
The best available evidence shows that on average, Canadians consume about 11% of their daily energy from all sources of added sugars, which is close to the World Health Organization 10% guideline. Also, Statistics Canada data shows that Canadian availability of added sugars from all sources in the food supply has declined by 17% over the past three decades. Canadian intakes of added sugars are about 1/3 less than that in the United States.
 
Health Canada’s recent nutrition labelling regulations will help consumers better identify the sources of sugars added to foods by grouping them in the list of ingredients.
 
Eating a variety of foods from all four food groups (this includes fruits and vegetables, fibre-rich grain products, lean meats and alternatives, and milk products), managing portion sizes, moderation in overall food intake, and engaging in regular physical activity continue to be key steps in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.