People in Mumbai and Ahmedabad consume more sugar than their fellow citizens in other metros. The mean intake of added sugar among India’s metros, measured in grams per day, is the highest in Mumbai and the least in Hyderabad.

This is the finding of a survey conducted by Hyderabad-based Indian Council of Medical Research - National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN), and sponsored by the International Life Sciences Institute-India (ILSI-India).

The findings reveal that the average daily intake of added sugar across all the metros is 19.5 g, well below the ICMR-recommended 30 g/day. ILSA-India Chairman PK Seth said: “The survey shows the populations of Mumbai and Ahmedabad, with their average intake level of added sugar at 26.3g/day and 25.9g/day, respectively, have a much higher intake than their counterparts in Delhi (23.2g/day), Bengaluru (19.3g/day), Kolkata (17.1g/day) and Chennai ( and Hyderabad (15.5g/day).”

The joint initiative of ICMR-NIN and ILSI India is stated to be the first of its kind, providing information on added sugar consumption of dwellers in the seven major metros.

At a time when the country is facing a malnutrition problem due to improper eating habits, the study is of considerable importance, especially in the effort to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Gender differences

The other significant finding of the study is that the average intake of sugar is more among women (20.2g/day) than men (18.7g/day). The trend is observed across all the cities except Ahmedabad, where men and women consume almost equal amounts of added sugar, at 25.7g and 26g/day, respectively. “The disparity in the consumption of added sugar between men and women seems to be more in Mumbai than in other cities. While women in Mumbai consume 28g/day, men’s intake is only 24.4g,” the study adds.

The proportion of energy gained through added sugar as a part of the total energy gained is 5.1 per cent.

Also, adults and elderly people are found to consume slightly more sugar than the others. The highest intake is observed among older adults, aged 36-59 years (20.5g/day), followed by the elderly, aged over 60 years (20.3g). Adolescents (19.9g/day) and younger adults aged 18-35 years (19.4g) consume less. School and pre-school children are found to consume 17.6g/day and 15.6g/day, respectively.

Survey methodology

For the survey, 5,127 individuals from the seven metros were asked to recall what they had eaten in the last 24 hours. All the food items were coded recipe-wise to determine the added sugar in each.

Sweet spots and bitter facts
  • At 21.3g/day, housewives are big consumers
  • Those engaged in sedentary activities take more sugar (19.4g/day) than those doing moderate activity (18.2g/day)
  • Vegetarians use more added sugar (24g/day) than non-vegetarians (18.2g)
  • The addition of sugar is highest in sweets (kheer, rasmalai, etc), followed by carbonated beverages, fruit-based recipes (especially mango pickle), processed fruit juices and milk-based recipes (masala tea, coffee, milk-shakes and lassi)