This analysis aimed to examine the association between intake of sugars (total or added) and nutrient intake with data from a recent Australian national nutrition survey, the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (2007ANCNPAS). Data from participants (n 4140; 51 % male) who provided 2×plausible 24-h recalls were included in the analysis. The values on added sugars for foods were estimated using a previously published ten-step systematic methodology. Reported intakes of nutrients and foods defined in the 2007ANCNPAS were analysed by age- and sex-specific quintiles of %energy from added sugars (%EAS) or %energy from total sugars (%ETS) using ANCOVA. Linear trends across the quintiles were examined using multiple linear regression. Logistic regression analysis was used to calculate the OR of not meeting a specified nutrient reference values for Australia and New Zealand per unit in %EAS or %ETS. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, BMI z-score and total energy intake. Small but significant negative associations were seen between %EAS and the intakes of most nutrient intakes (all P<0·001). For %ETS the associations with nutrient intakes were inconsistent; even then they were smaller than that for %EAS. In general, higher intakes of added sugars were associated with lower intakes of most nutrient-rich, ‘core’ food groups and higher intakes of energy-dense, nutrient-poor ‘extra’ foods. In conclusion, assessing intakes of added sugars may be a better approach for addressing issues of diet quality compared with intakes of total sugars.