Better research methods necessary to determine Thai population's sugar intake and sources

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Current data on the sugar consumption of the Thai population is insufficient and inconsistent. ©Getty Images
Current data on the sugar consumption of the Thai population is insufficient and inconsistent. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Southeast asia

Study methods must improve significantly in order to provide a clearer picture of the sugar intake among different demographics in Thailand, say researchers.

A review conducted by researchers at Thailand's Mahidol University and Singapore's International Life Sciences Institute Southeast Asia Region found insufficient evidence on the intake levels and sources of added sugar in Thailand.

They gathered information from sources they deemed the most reliable, including food balance sheets, surveys on household expenditure and food consumption, government reports, and both published and unpublished studies.

Inconsistent results

This came up to a total of 24 references, consisting of eight nationally representative reports and 16 individual studies. The researchers later noted that these studies had inconsistent results when compared to one another.

According to the 2009 Food Consumption Survey of Thai Population, the median intake of sugar and sweeteners for all age groups was between 2g and 20g per day among males (daily mean intake of 6.9g to 25.6g), and 2g to 15.7g a day among females (daily mean intake of 5.1g to 24.7g).

This was below the daily recommended 40g to 55 g in Thailand, though studies on children suggested 25g to 50g per day.

On the other hand, a National Statistical Office report stated that there was an "available supply of 83g sugar per capita per day in 2010"​.

The review also listed common sources of sugar as table sugar, sweet snacks — such as traditional desserts, baked goods, and crispy snacks — and sweetened beverages.

However, much of the information was limited due to the use of food frequency questionnaires or single 24-hour recalls to assess participants’ sugar intake.

Furthermore, many of the studies were outdated and had small sample sizes, compounding the limitations and inconsistency in results.

Methods must improve

As it is, insufficient evidence makes it impossible to accurately determine how much sugar different demographics among the Thai population are consuming, and to identify the main sources of sugar.

Varying results, contradictory findings, outdated surveys and limitations in the methods by which dietary

Therefore, the researchers concluded: "An updated nationally representative survey using improved methods is needed to determine the levels and sources of sugar intake in different population groups in Thailand.

"These methods include the use of biomarkers to establish levels of sugar consumption and multiple 24-hour recalls (at least two) to identify dietary sources that put the population at risk of excessive intakes."


Source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition

"Consumption and sources of added sugar in Thailand: a review"

Authors: Wantanee Kriengsinyos, et al.

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