Consumption of Sugars in Canada

Given concerns about how much sugars Canadians consume, it is important to look to Canadian sources of data on what we are currently consuming. 

  • Estimated Intakes of Total, Free, and Added Sugars Among Canadians. Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015 dietary intake survey data indicates that Canadians consumed on average, 18.8-25.8% energy from total sugars, 9.9-13.5% energy from free sugars, and 8.6-11% energy from added sugars depending on age category.
  • Trends in Canadian Added Sugars Availability. Statistics Canada annual loss-adjusted availability data indicates that the amount of total added sugars available for consumption per person in Canada has gradually declined over the past 20 years. 
  • Comparison of Canadian Sugars Consumption to US Data. Canadian adults consume nearly 1/3 less added sugars than US adults, mostly due to lower intakes of soft drinks. 

Estimated Intakes of Total, Added, and Free Sugars Among Canadians

The most recent Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)—Nutrition survey, conducted in 2015, provides the best estimate of actual food consumption. 

Average sugars intakes differed across different age categories of Canadians, after adjusting for misreporting status*(1-2):

  Total Sugars Free Sugars Added Sugars

Adults (19+ years)

18.8% energy

9.9% energy

8.6% energy

Older Adolescents (14-18 years)

22.0% energy

12.0% energy

10.7% energy

Young Adolescents (9-13 years)

23.9% energy

13.5% energy

11.0% energy

Children (2-8 years)

25.8% energy

12.6% energy

9.5% energy 

*This adjustment accounts for potential under-reporting as one of the limitations of the 24-hour dietary recall method used to collect dietary information in CCHS 2015. 

Comparisons Between CCHS 2015 and CCHS 2004

Total sugars intake decreased among Canadian adults from 2004 to 2015, as seen in the table below. 

Sugars Intake from 2004 to 2015 in Canadian Adults CCHS 20043 CCHS 20151
Total Sugars (% Daily Energy) 20.0% 18.8%
Free Sugars (% Daily Energy) 11.4% 9.9%
Added Sugars (% Daily Energy) 9.9% 8.6%

However, differences in population demographics (e.g. older age), survey methods, added/free sugars estimation methods, and under-reporting status between CCHS 2004 and CCHS 2015 may have influenced these observations (1-6). 

Nutrient Intakes and Food Categories Across Different Levels of Total Sugars Intakes
Adults (19 years and older):

Analysis of 2015 CCHS data shows that Canadian adults with a moderate intake of total sugars had greater intakes of dietary fibre and key micronutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and potassium compared to those with high and low intakes of total sugars (1). This was primarily due to greater intakes of fruits and dairy products compared to either high or low intakes of total sugars. No differences were observed in important sources of carbohydrates such as wholemeal breads, white breads, and whole-grain and high-fibre breakfast cereals.

There was also an inverse relationship between total sugars and total fat and saturated fat intakes as a % energy (i.e., at lower intakes of sugars there were higher intakes of fat and vice versa). This mirrors the “sugar-fat seesaw” phenomenon observed in other countries such as the United States and Australia (7). 

Adults with moderate intakes of total and added sugars had higher intakes of fibre and several vitamins and minerals.

Children and Adolescents (2-18 years)

In general, Canadian children and adolescents with low to mean total sugars intakes had higher intakes of protein, fat, sodium, niacin, folate and zinc, and lower intakes of vitamin C compared to those with the highest sugars intakes (2).

Interestingly, children (2-8 years) with mean intakes of total sugars had higher intakes of potassium and riboflavin compared to those with lower sugars intakes. Older adolescents (14-18 years) with mean intakes of total sugars had better intakes of potassium, calcium, and fibre compared to those with lower sugars intakes. This could be due to greater intakes of fruits, fruit juice, unsweetened milks, and yogurts (2). 

In comparison, children and adolescents with the highest intakes of total sugars had the highest intakes of multiple sugars-containing food categories, including fruit, confectionary, milks, and cakes/pies/pastries. Adolescents consumed more sugars-sweetened beverages, but notably, regular soft drink intake was only higher in older adolescents (14-18 years). Older adolescents’ eating patterns were also more similar to those of adults (2). 

Canadian children and adolescents consume 24.1% energy from total sugars (10.3% energy added sugars, 12.9% energy free sugars)

Trends in Canadian Added Sugars Availability 

Statistics Canada food availability data is reported annually. Added sugars availability data represents the amount of added sugars available for consumer consumption in the marketplace and can be used to estimate trends in per capita (i.e. “average per person”) consumption of added sugars in Canada (3,8). 

Data from Statistics Canada shows a long-term gradual declining trend in per capita added sugars intake, with a 16% reduction based on % energy over the past 20 years. In 2023, the estimated loss-adjusted* per person added sugars consumption in Canada was 10.8% energy (a decline from 12.8% energy in 2003). The largest contributor to the decline in added sugars is the continued decline in soft drinks availability (estimated high-fructose corn syrup intake), which is down by 59% over the past 20 years. This is consistent with the observed reduction in added sugars consumption in 2015 compared to 2004 from the Canadian Community Health Surveys (1). 

Graph showing estimated per capita consumption of added sugars in Canada from 2002-2022

Data source: Data source: Statistics Canada. Adjusted for waste using updated USDA Loss-Adjusted Food Availability ( Includes refined sugar, maple sugar, honey and sugars in soft drinks. Variability in sugars and syrups reflects substituting sugar with high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks. Sugars in soft drinks is an overestimate as soft drink data includes non-caloric soft drinks.

*An adjustment factor has been applied to account for losses that occur in distribution, storage, preparation, and consumption (e.g., discarded or spoiled) of added sugars containing foods and beverages.

Comparison of Canadian Sugars Consumption to US Data

Media articles in Canada often quote American sugars consumption statistics. However, our eating patterns are often different than our neighbours’, and this includes sugars intakes. 

Comparisons of dietary surveys during the same period of time between Canada (1,2,10) and the United States (9, 11–13) indicate that Canadians generally consume nearly 1/3 less added sugars than Americans. 

Comparison o f Canadian and US Consumption among adults^ per day

Canada (CCHS 2015) US (NHANES 2015-16)
Total Calories 1,890 Calories 2,105 Calories
Total sugars (grams) - natural and added 


89 g 106 g
Total sugars (% energy) - natural and added  18.8% 20.1%

Added sugars (grams)

42 g 67 g

Added sugars (Calories)

168 Calories 267 Calories

Added sugars (% Calories)

8.9% 12.7%
^CCHS 2015: 19 years and older; NHANES 2015-16: 20 years and older

Comparison o f Canadian and US Consumption among children^ per day

Canada (CCHS 2015) US (NHANES 2015-16)

Added sugars (% Calories)

1-8 years 9.4%  

9-13 years


14-18 years


9-18 years

^NHANES analysis did not separate the 9-13 years and 14-18 years groups. 

US per capita added sugars availability shows a similar declining trend to Canada, with Canadian intakes on average being about 30% lower than American intakes.

For more information, additional resources include:
Recent news items include: 
  1. Wang YF, Chiavaroli L, Roke K, DiAngelo C, Marsden S, Sievenpiper J. Canadian Adults with Moderate Intakes of Total Sugars have Greater Intakes of Fibre and Key Micronutrients: Results from the Canadian Community Health Survey - Nutrition 2015 Public Use Microdata File. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 17;12(4):E1124.
  2. Chiavaroli L, Wang YF, Ahmed M, Ng AP, DiAngelo C, Marsden S, Sievenpiper JL. Intakes of nutrients and food categories in Canadian children and adolescents across levels of sugars intake: Cross-sectional 1 analyses of the Canadian Community Health Survey 2015 Public Use Microdata File. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2022;47:415-28.
  3. Brisbois TD, Marsden SL, Anderson GH, Sievenpiper JL. Estimated intakes and sources of total and added sugars in the Canadian diet. Nutrients. 2014;6(5):1899-1912. 
  4. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. An Overview of the Canadian Agrictulture and Agri-Food System [Internet]. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada; 2023 July 6 [cited 2024 Feb 29].
  5. Louie JCY, Moshtaghian H, Boylan S, Flood VM, Rangan AM, Barclay AW, Brand-Miller JC, Gill TP. A systematic methodology to estimate added sugar content of foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015;69(2):154-61.
  6. Garriguet D. Accounting for misreporting when comparing energy intake across time in Canada. Health Rep. 2018;29:3-12. 
  7. Sadler MJ, McNulty H, Gibson S. Sugar-fat seesaw: A systematic review of the evidence. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55:338-56.
  8. Statistics Canada. Statistics Canada Table 32-10-0054-01. Food Availability [Internet]. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada; 2023 May 31 [cited 2024 Feb 29].
  9. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center Food Surveys Research Group. WWEIA Data Tables [Internet]. Beltsville, Maryland: US Department of Agriculture;2022 Aug 3 [cited 2024 Feb 29].
  10. Langlois K, Garriguet D. Change in total sugars consumption among Canadian children and adults [Internet]. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada Health Reports; 2019 Jan 16 [cited 2024 Feb 29].
  11. Bowman SA, Clemens JC, Friday JE, LaComb RB, Paudel D, Shimizu M. Added Sugars in Adults' Diet: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2015-2016. Food Surveys Research Group. Dietary Data Brief No. 24;2019.
  12. Welsh JA, Sharma AJ, Grellinger L, Vos MB. Consumption of added sugars is decreasing in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94:726-34.
  13.  Ricciuto L, Fulgoni VL, Gaine PC, Scott MO, DiFrancesco L. Trends in Added Sugars Intake and Sources Among US Children, Adolescents, and Teens Using NHANES 2001–2018. J Nutr. 2022 Feb 8;152(2):568-78.