The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend that children eat nutrient-dense snacks throughout the day to meet their nutritional needs. But are teens snacking in ways that lead to better health — or unwanted weight?
A new study led by Temple University College of Public Health researchers and published in Nutrients has found that adolescents with normal weight had fewer snacks daily and smaller snacks per occasion (i.e., fewer calories per snack) than teens classified as overweight or obese.
Other findings from the study include that teens with overweight and obesity were consuming more added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium from snacks compared to normal weight teens; boys are consuming more snacks per day compared to girls; and African American teens are consuming more frequent and more energy dense snacks compared to their white peers.
“There is an extensive literature that looks at how high-fat, high-sugar foods are disproportionately marketed to racial and ethnic minority kids, especially teens,” says lead author Dr. Gina Tripicchio, assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and researcher in the Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE). “What we show here is that they’re also disproportionately consuming these foods as snacks.”
Overall, the data suggests that targeting snacking frequency and size is a potential way to reduce teen obesity and obesity-related diseases.
“Despite how common snacking has become, there’s really not a lot of literature that uses rigorous methodology to look at snacking,” says Dr. Tripicchio. “We know adolescents have more autonomy than younger children, and they’re establishing eating behaviors that can impact life-long health.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 04