Dietary free sugars are the most important risk factor for dental caries and can contribute to excess energy intake with little nutrient benefit. Free sugars includes those sugars added during the production or processing of food and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. In 2015 the WHO updated their recommendations to include a reduction in free sugar intake throughout the lifecourse to <10% of Total Energy Intake (TEI), noting a further reduction to <5% of TEI would provide additional health benefits.

This study used a modified algorithm to estimate the free sugar intake in Irish 3 year old preschoolers using data from the National Preschool Nutrition Survey (NPNS) and the Growing Up in Ireland survey (GUI). The results indicate that 75% of 3 year-olds had free sugar intake greater than the maximum recommended by WHO guidelines for free sugar intake, while only 4% met the lower threshold.