SUGAR CRAVINGS AND ADDED SUGAR INTAKE AMONG BREASTFEEDING WOMEN IN KUANTAN, PAHANG
Introduction: Previous studies have shown a positive association between craving for sweets and actual sweet food intake. Women reported more episodes of food craving compared to men, especially during pre-menstruation and pregnancy. However, studies on sugar craving and added sugar intake among breastfeeding women are limited. This study aimed to assess this among breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women in Kuantan, Pahang. Methods: This cross-sectional study included participants aged 18-45 years, free of any chronic diseases, with BMI between 18.5 and 29.9kg/m2, through convenience sampling. The respondents rated their craving for 30 sweet foods and beverages using the Sugar Craving Assessment Tool for Malaysians (MySCAT) questionnaire. Their total sugar intake was estimated using 24-hour diet recall and FFQ for sugar. Results: Seventy-one subjects completed the study. This comprised of 46 non-breastfeeding and 25 breastfeeding women aged 27.1±6.7 years with a total MySCAT score of 37.4±16.0. The most craved items were sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) (mean score 2.2±1.3), cake varieties (2.0 ±1.1), and chocolate (2.0±1.2). The findings demonstrated that mean sugar intake for non-breastfeeding and breastfeeding women were 34.4±22.1g/day and 39.7±22.3g/day, respectively. The average percentage of sugar intake in this study was within the World Health Organization’s recommendation for adults but higher than the American Heart Association’s recommendation for women (P<0.001). There was no significant difference between added sugar intake and sugar craving among breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women. Besides, there was also no significant correlation between added sugar intake and sugar craving scores in this study. Conclusions: Sugar-sweetened beverages were the most craved food item among the respondents, regardless of the breastfeeding status. Breastfeeding practice was also not associated with craving for sweet items. Despite that, the findings support the need for additional efforts toward educating women of reproductive age to minimize foods and beverages high in added sugar while promoting more nutrient-dense options.
KEYWORDS: Breastfeeding, Sugar cravings, Sugar intake, Added sugars