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The Swedish Board of Agriculture and its predecessors have been producing sugar consumption statistics since the middle of the 1930’s in order to track sugar production and consumption for strategic and policy reasons. The statistics have also attracted attention from a health perspective, as sugar consumption is commonly considered a factor in the development of a multitude of health problems. Our sugar consumption statistics are however associated with several problems which limit its usefulness. In this report we give an overview of the methods we employ in order to produce our sugar consumption statistics – as presented in the publication “Food Consumption and Nutritive Values” – while also describing its contents and the pitfalls to avoid when analysing it.
Our statistics over total sugar consumption include the Swedish utilization of loose sugar and sugar added to processed foodstuff, but excludes inherent sugar in natural products and their derivatives, such as fruit, berries, juices and jams. The included sugar types differ somewhat over time, but for the statistics covering 1995 and later, sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose and maltodextrin are included, regardless of origin or manufacturing process.
Considering the limitations of our statistics, it’s important to keep a few things in mind during analyses:
Interpret the data with caution. For methodological reasons, the data we present are likely to be overestimates of the true sugar consumption.
Avoid year-to-year comparisons. The time resolution of the statistics is not high enough to accurately distinguish the consumption between succeeding years.
Use caution when comparing results from different studies. Different studies employ different methods and have different coverage, making direct comparisons hazardous.
Consider that the conditions for compiling the statistics have changed over time. As the methods have changed over time, this has not been corrected for in the presented statistics. Thus, proceed cautiously when comparing data from different periods. Important breaks in the time series are 1960 and 1995.