The study aimed to describe the use of table sugar and artificial sweeteners (AS) in Brazil. A representative sample (n = 32,749) of individuals aged > 10 years was examined from the Brazilian National Dietary Survey (2008–2009). Participants reported whether they use table sugar, AS, both, or none as sweeteners for their foods and beverages. Energy intake and the contribution of selected food groups to energy intake were evaluated according to the type of sweetener reported. Sample weights and design effects were considered in the analysis. The majority of the population (85.7%) used sugar to sweeten foods and beverages, 7.6% used AS, and 5.1% utilized both products. The use of AS was more frequent among the elderly (20%), women (10% versus 5.5%), overweight individuals (10% versus 6%), those who live in urban areas (8.5% versus 3%), and those who belong to the highest income quartile (14% versus 1.6%), compared with men, normal weight individuals, those who live in rural areas, and those who belong to the first income quartile, respectively. Overall, the mean daily energy intake of individuals using only sugar was approximately 16% higher than those who used AS exclusively. The contribution of staple foods to daily energy intake was higher in individuals who used sugar than those who used AS.
Analysing data from the Brazilian National Dietary Survey, the present study found that the mean daily energy (calorie) intake of Brazilian adults using only sugar was approximately 16% higher than those who used exclusively table-top sweeteners (TTS) – containing low calorie sweeteners.
Overall, the majority of the population (85.7%) used sugar to sweeten foods and beverages, 7.6% used table-top sweeteners only, and 5.1% both products. The use of TTS was more frequent among the elderly, women (10% versus 5.5%), overweight individuals (10% versus 6%), those who live in urban areas (8.5% versus 3%), and those who belong to the highest income quartile (14% versus 1.6%). In average, the use of sugar to sweeten foods and beverages implies an increase of 186 kcal daily, corresponding to a 10% increase in the total energy intake. Individuals who reported exclusive use of low calorie sweeteners to sweeten their foods and drinks had also lower consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, and higher consumption of vegetables and fruits, compared to those who used table sugar, indicating a dietary pattern of higher quality for low calorie sweeteners’ consumers.
In line with other studies in the US (Leahy et al 2017; Drewnowski and Rehm, 2014) and the UK (Patel et al, 2018; Gibson et al., Nutrients 2016), data from this survey in Brazil showed that people using low calorie sweeteners to sweeten foods and beverages had overall higher diet quality including lower calorie intake, reduced consumption of sugar and of sugar-sweetened foods (sweets and desserts) and beverages and a higher intake of fruits and vegetables.