There  is a concern about how much sugars Canadians consume. It is important to look to Canadian sources of data on what we are currently consuming. 

  • Estimated Intakes of Total Sugars from Nutrition Survey Data. According to dietary intake surveys from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015, consumption of total sugars in Canada was 101 grams for children aged 2 to 8, 115 grams for children aged 9 to 18, and 85 grams for adults, which demonstrates a reduction of 3, 13 and 8 grams, respectively compared to CCHS 2004.
  • Trends in Canadian Added Sugars Availability in the Marketplace. Statistics Canada availability data indicates that the amount of added sugars available in the marketplace has been declining over the past 30 years. 
  • Comparison of Canadian Sugars Consumption to US Data. The amount of available added sugars in Canada is about one-third less than the US.

Estimated Intakes of Total Sugars from Nutrition Survey Data

Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015 offers the most recent published nutrition survey data and an objective observation of food consumption based on the collection of self-report nutrition surveys in the form of 24-hour dietary recalls from 20,488 Canadians (1). 

The report describes Canadian intakes of total sugars (from naturally occurring and added sources), and compares it to sugars data collected as part of CCHS 2004 (2, 3). Overall, the study found that average daily total sugars consumption from food and beverages decreased from 2004 to 2015 (See Figure 1). However, after excluding misreporters, data from the "plausible reporters" did not show any change in total sugars consumption among children or adults. The report acknowledges that the data are based on one 24-hour dietary recall and there are inherent limitations associated with catogorizing data by misreporting status. Notably, it excluded about 40% of respondents who were classified as over- or under-reporters due to deviation of reported energy intake from their predicted total energy expenditure based on age, sex, a fixed level of physical activity (low or sedentary) and BMI category.

Figure 1: Average consumption of total sugars by age groups based on Canadian Community Health Survey
  2004 2015
2-8 years 104 101
9-18 years 128 115
19+ years 93 85
grams/day
Age group

When total sugars intakes from food alone were compared with beverages, the trends were consistent – total sugars in beverages decreased over time while total sugars from foods increased. The top source of sugars continues to be sugars-sweetened beverages1, however, consumption declined regardless of age or misreporting status; for example in adults, consumption decreased from 30% of total sugars in 2004 to 24% in 2015 and among children aged 9 to 18, the decrease was from 39% to 30%. Statistics Canada suggests a trend to declining total sugars from 2004 and 2015 based on the observed decline in free sugars from soft drinks and the higher contribution of naturally occurring sugars in fruit among children.

The report provides the top ten sources of total sugars from foods and beverages … “fruit was the greatest source of total sugars; all other top sources were similar, but varied in rank. In general, total sugars from the top food sources increased from 2004 to 2015, with the exception of the decline in sugars coming from the ‘sugars, syrups and confectionery’ category.”

Trends in Canadian Added Sugars Availability in the Marketplace

Statistics Canada food availability data is reported annually. Availability data for sugars represents the amount of added sugars available in the marketplace and can be used as a proxy to observe trends in per capita sugars consumption in Canada (4).

While many headlines suggest that Canadian intakes of added sugars are increasing, data from Statistics Canada indicates a decline in availability of sugars over the last 20 years. This means the amount of added sugars available for purchase has been declining, and supports the similar declining trend in added sugars consumption in Canada seen in dietary intake surveys.

Figure 2: Estimated Added Sugars Consumption in Canada Added Sugars g/day
Loss Adjusted Availability, grams/person/day
1984 78.1
1985 80.0
1986 80.5
1987 82.8
1988 78.4
1989 72.7
1990 74.1
1991 72.9
1992 75.5
1993 77.3
1994 79.7
1995 76.4
1996 77.1
1997 77.1
1998 73.6
1999 74.0
2000 74.2
2001 74.3
2002 74.2
2003 73.7
2004 72.9
2005 70.0
2006 66.7
2007 63.9
2008 64.3
2009 65.7
2010 62.2
2011 62.9
2012 60.3
2013 61.9
2014 61.2
2015 59.6
2016 58.7
2017 58.5

Data source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM. Adjusted for waste using updated USDA Loss-Adjusted Food Availability  (http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-(per-capita)-data-system/.aspx#26705) . Includes refined sugar, maple sugar, honey and sugars in soft drinks. Note: Variability in sugars and syrups reflects substitution with high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks so total sugars, syrups and soft drinks is an overestimate in some years. Sugars in soft drinks is an overestimate as soft drink data includes non-caloric soft drinks.

Comparison of Canadian Sugars Consumption to US Nutrition Survey Data

Figure 3: Trend in Canada and United States Added Sugars Consumption (1994-2016) Canada United States
Loss Adjusted Availability, grams/person/day
1994 79.7 103.4
1995 76.4 105.4
1996 77.1 105.9
1997 77.1 108.5
1998 73.6 109.2
1999 74.0 110.9
2000 74.2 109.0
2001 74.3 107.7
2002 74.0 107.0
2003 73.7 103.5
2004 72.9 103.7
2005 70.0 104.0
2006 66.7 101.5
2007 63.9 99.0
2008 64.3 99.2
2009 65.7 95.3
2010 62.2 96.3
2011 62.9 94.8
2012 60.3 94.7
2013 61.9 93.9
2014 61.2 94.7
2015 59.6 94.6
2016 58.7 92.5

Data source: Canada: Statistics Canada, CANSIM. Adjusted for waste using updated USDA Loss-Adjusted Food Availability. United States: USDA, Caloric sweeteners: Per capita availability adjusted for loss.

Media articles often quote American sugars consumption statistics. However, our eating patterns are often different than our neighbours’, and this includes sugars intakes. Comparisons from 2004 consumption surveys indicate that Canadians eat and drink fewer sugars from foods and beverages than Americans, approximately one third less (3, 5). Much of this difference can be explained by the fact that Canadian consumption of soft drinks was about half that of the US (5). This table will be updated upon completion of a more in-depth review of CCHS 2015  sugars consumption data.     

Comparison of Canadian and US Consumption

Canada US
Population Average per person per day (Added sugars estimated)

(CCHS 2004)

(NHANES 2003-04)

Total Calories

2,073 Calories 2,195 Calories

Total sugars (grams) - natural and added

110 g 133 g

Added sugars (grams)*

55 g 88 g

Added sugars (Calories)

220 Calories 352 Calories

Added sugars (% Calories)

10.7% 15.9%
*Added sugars estimates 

For more information, additional resources include:

Recent news items include: 

References

  1. Langlois K, Garriguet D. Change in total sugars consumption among Canadian children and adults. Statistics Canada Health Reports. January 2019.
  2. Langlois K, Garriguet D. Sugar consumption among Canadians of all ages. Statistics Canada Health Reports. September 2011.
  3. Brisbois TD, et al. Estimated intakes and sources of total and added sugars in the Canadian diet. Nutrients 2014;6(5):1899-1912. 
  4. Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 002-0011. Food Available in Canada. 
  5. Welsh JA, Sharma AJ, Grellinger L, Vos MB. Consumption of added sugars is decreasing in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94:726-734.