Public Health Nutrition

Special groups

Consumption patterns of sweetened food and drink products in a Catholic Middle Eastern Canadian community

Jean-Claude Moubaraca1a2 c1, Olivier Receveura3, Margaret Cargoa4 and Mark Daniela4

a1 Núcleo de Pesquisas Epidemiológicas em Nutricão e Saúde, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Dr. Arnaldo 715, 01255-000, São Paulo, SP, Brasil

a2 École de Santé Publique, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

a3 Département de Nutrition, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

a4 School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Objective The present study describes the consumption patterns of sweetened food and drink products in a Catholic Middle Eastern Canadian community and examines its associations with physical activity, sedentary behaviours and BMI.

Design A two-stage cross-sectional design was used. In Stage 1 (n 42), 24 h recalls enabled the identification of sweetened products. In Stage 2 (n 192), an FFQ was administered to measure the daily consumption of these products and to collect sociodemographic and behavioural data. Sweetened products were defined as processed culinary ingredients and ultra-processed products for which total sugar content exceeded 20 % of total energy.

Setting Three Catholic Middle Eastern churches located in Montreal, Canada.

Subjects Normoglycaemic men and women (18–60 years old).

Results Twenty-six sweetened products represented an average consumption of 75·4 g total sugars/d or 15·1 % of daily energy intake (n 190, 56 % women). Soft drinks, juices, sweetened coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes and muffins were the main sources of consumption and mostly consumed between meals. Age (exp (β) = 0·99; P < 0·01), physical activity (exp (β) = 1·08; P < 0·01) and recreational computer use (exp (β) = 1·17; P < 0·01) were independently associated with sweetened product consumption. The association between sweetened product consumption and physical activity was U-shaped. BMI was not significantly associated with sweetened product consumption but all participants regardless of BMI were above the WHO recommendation for free sugars.

Conclusions Being physically active and spending less time using a computer may favour a reduced consumption of sweetened products. Very active individuals may, however, overconsume such products.

(Received August 02 2012)

(Revised October 22 2012)

(Accepted November 23 2012)

(Online publication January 03 2013)


  • Sweet products;
  • Ultra-processed;
  • Public health nutrition;
  • Middle Eastern Canadian;
  • Arab Canadian


c1 Corresponding author: Email