Added sugar and dietary sodium intake from purchased fast food, confectionery, sweetened beverages and snacks among Sowetan adolescents A B Feeley, PhD; S A Norris, PhD Medical Research Council/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Departm
Background. Greater availability and accessibility of fast foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks in urban South Africa may be contributing to the burgeoning obesity epidemic in adolescents.
Objectives. To determine the consumption of purchased foods and drinks among a cohort of urban adolescents, and to estimate the added sugar and dietary sodium intake from these foods and beverages.
Methods. Participants (N=1 451, 49.6% male, mean 17.7 years of age) completed interviewer-assisted questionnaires on dietary intake practices pertaining to food choices in the home, school and community. The consumption of fast foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks was determined and the average added sugar and sodium intakes were estimated.
Results. The median (interquartile range) intake of fast foods was 11 (7 - 16) items/week in both sexes. Sweetened beverages were consumed 8 (5 - 11) and 10 (6 - 11) times/week by males and females, respectively (p<0.02). Females consumed confectionery more often than males (13 (9 - 17) and 11 (8 - 15) items/week, respectively; p<0.01). Seven (5 - 10) salty snack items/week were consumed by both sexes. Overall, mean added sugar intake from these purchased food items was estimated at 561.6 g/week for males and 485.3 g/week for females, respectively (p=0.02), and dietary salt at 4 803 mg/week for males and 4 761 mg/week for females, respectively (p>0.05).
Conclusion. In this study, males and females consumed on average three times the recommended daily intake of added sugar, and more than half of the recommended daily salt intake from these purchased foods alone. These dietary patterns during adolescence may exacerbate the risk of obesity and hypertension in later adult life.