A nutrient dilution effect of diets high in added sugar has been reported in some older populations but the evidence is inconsistent. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between added sugar intakes (according to recommended guidelines) and nutrient intake, food consumption and Body Mass Index (BMI).
A cross-sectional analysis of data collected in 2007-09 from participants of the Blue Mountains Eye Study 4 was performed (n = 879). Dietary intake was assessed using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Added sugar content of foods was determined by applying a systematic step-wise method. BMI was calculated from measured weight and height. Food and nutrient intakes and BMI were assessed according to categories of percentage energy from added sugar (EAS%<5%, EAS%=5–10%, EAS% >10%) using ANCOVA for multivariate analysis.
Micronutrient intake including retinol equivalents, vitamins B6, B12, C, E and D, and minerals including calcium, iron and magnesium showed a significant inverse association with EAS% intakes (Ptrend<0.05). In those people with the lowest intake of added sugars (<5% energy) intake of alcohol, fruits, and vegetables were higher and intake of sugar sweetened beverages was lower compared to other participants (all Ptrend <0.001). BMI was similar across the three EAS% categories.
Energy intake from added sugar above the recommended level of 10% is associated with lower micronutrient intakes, indicating micronutrient dilution. Conversely, added sugar intakes below 5% of energy intake are associated with higher micronutrient intakes. This information may inform dietary messages targeted at optimising diet quality in older adults.