British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Comparison of methods to estimate non-milk extrinsic sugars and their application to sugars in the diet of young adolescents

Sarah A. M. Kellya1, Carolyn Summerbella2, Andrew J. Rugg-Gunna1, Ashley Adamsona3, Emma Fletchera3 and Paula J. Moynihana1 c1

a1 School of Dental Sciences, University of Newcastle, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon, Tyne NE2 4BW, UK

a2 School of Health, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA, UK

a3 Human Nutrition Research Centre, University of Newcastle, Wellcome Laboratories, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK


Consistent information on the non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) content of foods and the NMES intake by the population is required in order to allow comparisons between dietary surveys. A critical appraisal of methods of NMES estimation was conducted to investigate whether the different published methods for estimating the NMES content of foods lead to significantly different values for the dietary intake of NMES by children and to consider the relative practicality of each method. NMES values of foods were calculated using three different published descriptions of methods of NMES estimation, and the values were compared within food groups. Dietary intake values for English children aged 11–12 years were calculated using each method and compared in terms of overall NMES intake and the contribution of different food groups to NMES intake. There was no significant difference in the dietary intake of NMES in children between the method used in the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) (81·9 g/d; 95 % CI 79·0, 84·7) and a method developed by the Human Nutrition Research Centre (84·3 g/d; 95 % CI 81·4, 87·2) at Newcastle University, UK, although the latter gave slightly higher values. An earlier method used by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries gave significantly higher values than the other two methods (102·5 g/d; 95 % CI 99·3, 105·6; P<0·05). The method used in the NDNS surveys and the method used by the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University are both thorough and detailed methods that give consistent results. However, the method used in the NDNS surveys was more straightforward to apply in practice and is the best method for a single uniform approach to the estimation of NMES.

(Received August 18 2004)

(Revised January 31 2005)

(Accepted February 01 2005)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Paula Moynihan, fax +44 (0) 191 222 5928, email