An Online Survey on Consumer Knowledge and Understanding of Added Sugars

Mary Tierney, Alison Gallagher, Efstathios Giotis, Kristina Pentieva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Evidence of an association between added sugars (AS) and the risk of obesity has triggered public health bodies to develop strategies enabling consumers to manage their AS intake. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly recommended a reduction of free sugars to 10% of total dietary energy (TE) and conditionally recommended a reduction to 5% TE to achieve health benefits. Despite food labelling being a policy tool of choice in many countries, there is no consensus on the mandatory addition of AS to the nutrition panel of food labels. An online survey was conducted to explore consumer ability to identify AS on food labels and to investigate consumer awareness of the WHO guidelines in relation to sugar intakes. The questionnaire was tested for participant comprehension using face-to-face interviews prior to conducting the online study. The online survey was conducted in Northern Ireland during May 2015 and was completed by a convenient sample of 445 subjects. Results showed that just 4% of respondents correctly classified 10 or more ingredients from a presented list of 13 items, while 65% of participants were unaware of the WHO guidelines for sugar intake. It may be timely to reopen dialogue on inclusion of AS on food product nutrition panels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 5 Jan 2017


  • obesity
  • added sugars
  • World Health Organisation
  • food product nutrition panels


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