Submitted to: Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2006
Publication Date: March 26, 2006
Citation: Sebastian, R., Cleveland, L., Goldman, J., Moshfegh, A. 2006. Snacking behavior of children and teenagers in the United States [abstract]. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 20(4):A189. Technical Abstract: The purpose of this study was to track changes in snacking behavior of children and the effects of these changes on food and nutrient intake. Twenty-four hour dietary recall data for children 6-19 years from three nationally representative surveys were analyzed: the 1977-78 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey, the 1994-98 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, and the 2001-02 What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Changes in snacking over the last 25 years have impacted children’s eating patterns and subsequent intake. The number of eating occasions per day reported by children and teens has risen markedly. Eating patterns have shifted from traditional meals to more frequent snacking. Between 1977-78 and 2001-2002, the percent of children eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the intake day decreased while the percent reporting at least one snack increased over 40% in both age groups. Away from home snacking doubled for young children and rose by over 50% for teens. Mean intake of snack-type foods also increased. Relative to the calories they provided, snack choices in 2001-2002 were lower in most macronutrients except carbohydrate and total sugars. Top contributors to caloric intake from snacks are cakes, cookies, savory snacks, fried potatoes, candy, milk, milk desserts, fruit drinks, and soda. Foods and beverages consumed as snacks represent an increasing proportion of total caloric intake for children 6-19 years of age. Selection of more nutritious snack choices would greatly improve the overall diet of this population. Funded by ARS, USDA.