News article

Kids Snacking in the U.S. – What, When and How much?

Posted:  Monday, May 19, 2014

The prevalence of snacking and concern over the nutritional quality of foods that children regularly consume as snacks has increased over the last two decades. In 2008, the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) set out to identify the snacking patterns of children in the U.S. – a subject about which little was previously known.

The study looked at the habits of children from birth up to 4 years of age, placing them into three groups: infants (0-11 months), toddlers (12-23 months) and preschoolers (24-47 months). Parents and carers were asked to share information about what snacks were being consumed, when and in what quantities.

The study revealed that snacking patterns begin to emerge at 12 months of age and are fairly set by the age of 2, by which time children snack on average twice a day and gain about 25% of the total energy intake from these foods – accounting for an average of 345 kcal or 150-200 calories per occasion.

As for when, the most popular time of day among toddlers and preschoolers was the afternoon (75-84%), following by the morning (57-62%) and evening (50-61%), with more children consuming snacks at home than away from home: 73% vs 27% for toddlers and 67% vs 33% for preschoolers.

Looking at what snacks were consumed, the most popular choice was milk and milk products (66% - toddlers, 60% - preschoolers) followed by sweets and sweetened beverages (69% - toddlers, 83% - preschoolers).

The study’s results highlighted the critical need to understand and promote healthy snacking, from infancy through to preschool, as a means of developing healthy eating patterns early in life.

Read more about the result of the 2008 FITS study:
Snacking Patterns among young children in the U.S.