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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Relationship between snacking patterns, diet quality and risk of overweight and abdominal obesity in children

Author
item NICKLAS, THERESA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item O'NEIL, CAROL - LSU Agcenter
item FULGONI III, VICTOR - Nutrition Impact, Llc

Submitted to: International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/7/2014
Publication Date: 4/23/2014
Citation: Nicklas, T.A., O'Neil, C.E., Fulgoni Iii, V.L. 2014. Relationship between snacking patterns, diet quality and risk of overweight and abdominal obesity in children. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition. 2:189-200.

Interpretive Summary: In 2009-2010 nearly 32% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were obese and rates of childhood obesity have tripled in the last 25 years. Childhood obesity tracks to adulthood and can lead to increased chronic disease risk. Thus, it is important to understand the factors associated with overweight in children. It was determined that several snacking patterns, compared with non-snackers, had better diet quality and were less likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to have abdominal obesity. More studies are needed to confirm these findings to better understand how specific snacking patterns fit within an overall healthier eating lifestyle. Some snacking patterns may also be inversely associated with weight and abdominal obesity. Because of inconsistent evidence in the literature, there are several noteworthy findings from this study that should generate future hypotheses for further testing. Longitudinal studies are needed to further evaluate whether snacking prevents weight gain in children. Education is needed to improve snacking patterns in terms of nutrients to limit in the diet.

Technical Abstract: Snacking is very common among Americans; the impact of variety of snacking patterns on nutrient intake and weight status is unclear. This study examined the associations of snacking patterns on nutrient intake and weight in U.S. children 2-18 years participating in the 2001-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Cluster analysis generated 12 distinct snacking patterns, explaining 57% of variance in total calories consumed. Only 8% of the children did not consume snacks on the day of the 24-hour recall. Cakes, cookies and pastries was the most common snacking pattern followed by miscellaneous snacks, and crackers and salty snacks. Most snacking patterns resulted in higher total energy intake than the no snack pattern. Several of the snacking patterns were associated with a reduced risk of overweight and abdominal obesity. Overall, several snacking patterns compared with non-snackers had better diet quality and were less likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to have abdominal obesity. Education is needed to improve snacking patterns in terms of nutrients to limit in the diet.