June 20, 2013
Welcome to the latest edition of the NCAlert – an e-update series sponsored by the National Confectioners Association. Our goal is to provide timely research updates, thoughtful commentaries and useful educational resources on the role of candy in health and wellness.
I am pleased to share new research conducted on frequency of candy consumption and body weight status that was financially supported by the National Confectioners Association.
When it comes to sweet treats, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state, “it’s not necessary to get rid of all sweets and desserts; just serve small portions.” This recommendation acknowledges that enjoying sweet treats in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle that balances calories with regular physical activity. Surprisingly, however, little research has been done to understand to what extent Americans are actually consuming confections – how frequently and in what quantities.
A recent study on this topic has been published online in Nutrition Journal: “Body weight status and cardiovascular risk factors in adults by frequency of candy consumption”. As the title suggests, the study examined associations between how often adults ate candy and its impact on BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure and cholesterol measures.
Using data from NHANES 2003-2006 and the Food Frequency Questionnaire, respondents were divided into three categories: frequent candy consumers (3.5 times per week), moderate consumers (more than 3 times per month to less than 3.5 times per week) and infrequent consumers (less than 3 times per month).
The findings suggest that across all categories, as overall candy consumption increased, so did usual energy intake; overall saturated fat and total and added sugars were also higher. Despite these increases, however, there was no association with frequency of candy consumption and increased BMI or waist circumference, nor adverse health effects with blood pressure or cholesterol measures. These findings are consistent with previously published work that has shown that candy consumption is not associated with weight or cardiovascular disease risk factors (O’Neil et al, 2011 and Golomb et al, 2012).
While these results are based on cross-sectional data and should not be used to determine causation, typical candy consumption in the U.S. has been shown to be relatively small. Previous analyses, such as those published in Table 2 of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, have shown that candy contributes on average 47 calories per day (approximately 2-3 percent of calories) to the U.S. diet. More research is needed to further understand the role candy plays in life and the best tips for candy lovers to include their favorite treats as a part of a happy, healthy lifestyle.
The study is available online: http://www.nutritionj.com/content/12/1/53.
Additionally, NCA has published resources on our website in order to help consumers incorporate moderate amounts of candy into a balanced diet that meets dietary recommendations. Please visit our website to learn more.
In good health,
Laura Shumow, MHS
Director, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs
National Confectioners Association