Dietary sources of sugars in adolescents’ diet: the HELENA study

  • M. I. Mesana
  • A. Hilbig
  • O. Androutsos
  • M. Cuenca-García
  • J. Dallongeville
  • I. Huybrechts
  • S. De Henauw
  • K. Widhalm
  • A. Kafatos
  • E. Nova
  • A. Marcos
  • M. González-Gross
  • D. Molnar
  • F. Gottrand
  • L. A. Moreno
Original Contribution



To report dietary sugars consumption and their different types and food sources, in European adolescents.


Food consumption data of selected groups were obtained from 1630 adolescents (45.6% males, 12.5–17.5 years) from the HELENA study using two nonconsecutive 24-h recalls. Energy intake, total sugars and free sugars were assessed using the HELENA-DIAT software. Multiple regression analyses were performed adjusting for relevant confounders.


Total sugars intake (137.5 g/day) represented 23.6% and free sugars (110.1 g/day), 19% of energy intake. Girls had significantly lower intakes of energy, carbohydrates, total sugars and free sugars. 94% of adolescents had a consumption of free sugars above 10% of total energy intake. The main food contributor to free sugars was ‘carbonated, soft and isotonic drinks,’ followed by ‘non-chocolate confectionary’ and ‘sugar, honey, jam and syrup.’ Older boys and girls had significantly higher intakes of free sugars from ‘cakes, pies and biscuits.’ Free sugars intake was negatively associated with low socioeconomic status for ‘non-chocolate confectionary’ and ‘sugar, honey and jam’ groups; with low maternal educational level for carbonated and ‘soft drinks,’ ‘sugar, honey and jam,’ ‘cakes and pies’ and ‘breakfast cereals’ groups; and with high paternal educational level for ‘carbonated and soft drinks’ and ‘chocolates’ group.


The majority (94%) of studied adolescents consumed free sugars above 10% of daily energy intake. Our data indicate a broad variety in foods providing free sugars. Continued efforts are required at different levels to reduce the intake of free sugars, especially in families with a low educational level.


Adolescents Free sugars Food sources Europe Diet 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. I. Mesana
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • A. Hilbig
    • 5
  • O. Androutsos
    • 6
  • M. Cuenca-García
    • 7
    • 8
  • J. Dallongeville
    • 9
  • I. Huybrechts
    • 10
    • 11
  • S. De Henauw
    • 10
  • K. Widhalm
    • 12
  • A. Kafatos
    • 13
  • E. Nova
    • 14
  • A. Marcos
    • 14
  • M. González-Gross
    • 15
    • 16
    • 19
  • D. Molnar
    • 17
  • F. Gottrand
    • 18
  • L. A. Moreno
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 19
  1. 1.Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development (GENUD) Research GroupUniversity of ZaragozaSaragossaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón (IA2)SaragossaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón (IIS Aragón)SaragossaSpain
  4. 4.Red de Salud Materno-infantil y del Desarrollo (SAMID)MadridSpain
  5. 5.Research Institute of Child Nutrition (FKE)DortmundGermany
  6. 6.Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Health Science and EducationHarokopio UniversityAthensGreece
  7. 7.Department of Medical Physiology, School of MedicineUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  8. 8.GALENO Research Group, Department of Physical Education, School of EducationUniversity of CadizPuerto RealSpain
  9. 9.Service d’Epidémiologie et Santé Publique - INSERM U1167 Institut Pasteur de LilleLilleFrance
  10. 10.Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Public HealthGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  11. 11.Dietary Exposure Assessment GroupInternational Agency for Research on CancerLyonFrance
  12. 12.Division of Clinical Nutrition and Prevention, Department of PediatricsMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  13. 13.Department of Social Medicine, Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, School of MedicineUniversity of CreteHeraklionGreece
  14. 14.Inmunonutrition Research Group, Department of Metabolism and Nutrition, Instituto del Frío, Institute of Food Science and Technology and Nutrition (ICTAN)Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)MadridSpain
  15. 15.ImFINE Research Group, Department of Health and Human Performance, Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport-INEFTechnical University of MadridMadridSpain
  16. 16.Institut für Ernährungs- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften - ErnährungphysiologieRheinische Friedrich Wilhelms UniversitätBonnGermany
  17. 17.Department of Paediatrics, Medical FacultyUniversity of PécsPecsHungary
  18. 18.Lille Inflammation Research International Center (LIRIC) UMR 995 InsermUniversity of Lille, CHU LilleLille cedexFrance
  19. 19.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERObn)MadridSpain

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