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Daily snacking behavior and body weight among adolescents

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Dr Suneet Kumar Verma, MD (Med), Dept. of Internal Medicine, Alchemist Hospital, Panchkula, & Sparsh Clinic, Zirakpur, India; and Dr Sanjay Kalra, DM (AIIMS); President-elect, SAFES, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, India    03 January 2023

Obese and overweight teenagers eat greater amounts of added sugar, solid fats and refined grains daily from snacks than those with normal body weight, suggests a team of researchers from the United States in a study published in the journal Obesity.1

 

In this cross-sectional study, 5264 adolescents, aged 12-19 years, were enrolled to examine the types of snack foods consumed by them, according to the weight category of the participants. Ten food groups were assessed: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, refined grains, dairy, protein, oils, solid fats and added sugars. This analysis was based on data sourced from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2018. Sixty-two subjects were categorized as normal weight (<85th BMI%), 16% as overweight (85th-95th BMI%) and 22% as obese (≥95th BMI%) according to the BMI percentile. Self-reported dietary intake, including snacking behavior was gathered from the participants via two 24-hours dietary recall in a gap of 3 to 10 days.

 

The daily energy intake through snacks was a mean of 480 kcal. The obese adolescents consumed a mean of 603 kcal daily from snacks; adolescents who were overweight ate 527 kcal, while normal weight adolescents consumed 424 kcal daily. Adolescents with overweight or obesity ate higher quantities of added sugars, dairy, refined grains, oil and solid fats by way of snacks in contrast to the adolescents with normal weight. The daily energy intake through snacks was higher in the overweight or obese group vs normal weight group.

 

Obese adolescents are at risk of lifestyle disorders including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia. Additionally, they are vulnerable to the stigma surrounding obesity with psychosocial consequences. Obese children are also more likely to be obese adults. This study reveals the high intake of calories by overweight or obese adolescents through snacks (sugary drinks, fast foods and energy-dense foods) vis-à-vis adolescents with normal body weight. The intake of added sugar, solid fats and refined grains also differed according to the weight category of the participants suggesting a dose-response relationship between the two. Targeting the snacking behavior of adolescents, types of snacks and frequency of snacking, therefore is a strategy to reduce the risk of obesity among adolescents. There is a need for “age-specific snacking recommendations to prevent excess intake of overconsumed nutrients and calories”, conclude the authors.

 

Reference

  1. Croce CM, et al. Association of weight status with the types of foods consumed at snacking occasions among US adolescents. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2022 Dec;30(12):2459-2467. doi: 10.1002/oby.23571.

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