Objective: To identify the characteristics of Australian adults exceeding the World Health
Organization’s free sugar (FS) intake recommendations of <10% and compare the sources of
FS among those exceeding (high FS consumers) and complying (low FS consumers) with the
Method: Nationally weighted data from the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity
Survey 2011-12 was used to describe the proportions of FS consumption and sources of FS
among adults aged ≥18 years (n=9,435) across demographic, socioeconomic and health
behavioural subgroups. Six categories of food groups likely to contain FS were generated and
Results: Almost half of all adults (47%) were high FS consumers. More than one-third of adults
in each demographic, socioeconomic and health behaviour subgroup were high FS consumers.
Of the food groups containing FS, beverages contributed the most FS (37%), particularly for
young adults (48%). High FS consumers obtained twice as much FS from beverages (42%)
than low FS consumers (21%). A reverse age gradient was observed for the FS sourced from
Conclusions: Almost half the Australians surveyed exceeded the FS intake recommendations.
Sugary beverages were the largest source of FS, with young adults being the highest consumers.
Implications for public health: Whole population strategies targeting beverages could
possibly reduce Australia’s high sugar intake.