Sugar consumption and deprivation

This guardian article on calls for a ‘sugar tax’ cites statistics on child obesity prevalence by deprivation: 2015-10-27 14-00-54


As it happens these Public Health England (PHE) obesity statistics have been mentioned before on this site. But the association with deprivation made us curious about whether sugar consumption has a similar relationship.

This study of an area of outer North-East London found that deprived children (based on the 2007 indices) were “more likely to consume sugary foods frequently compared to children in more affluent areas”, although with the qualification that this was not statistically significant due to the survey area itself being largely deprived.

This larger survey of sugar intake among children in Scotland used the Scottish Indices of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and observed that although total sugar consumption was about the same across SIMD deciles, there was higher relative consumption of Non-Milk Extrinsic Sugars associated with tooth decay in more deprived areas:

“Children in the more deprived areas derived a lower proportion of energy from pasta, rice and other cereals and a higher proportion from crisps and savoury snacks than children in the less deprived areas. Children in more deprived areas also obtained a lower proportion of total sugars from fruit, and a higher proportion from confectionery and non-diet soft drinks.”

Finally the recently released PHE report ‘Sugar Reduction: The evidence for action’ cites evidence of higher sugar intakes “in adults in the lowest income compared to all other income groups” and higher consumption of sugary soft drinks among adults and teens in the lowest income group.

This higher consumption of sugar may be related to health inequalities. For example a 2006 Diabetes UK report claimed that the most deprived people are 2.5 times more likely to develop diabetes.


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