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Survey Data Confirm Huge 30-Year Rise In Snacking Among U.S. Children

March 2, 2010: 08:52 AM EST
An increase in snacking on salty chips, candy and other junk food now accounts for as much as 27 percent of daily caloric intake among children in the U.S., putting them at risk for hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, according to a long-term study of eating patterns. Researchers examined data from national surveys of food intake among 31,000 children from 1977 to 2006. In an early survey (1977 to 1978), 74 percent aged 2 to 18 said they ate snacks. By 2003-2006, that number had soared to 98 percent. Children, including very young ones, still ate three meals a day, researchers found, but also snacked three times a day on “high calorie junk food.” The researchers recommend several remedies for parents, schools and lawmakers concerned about kids’ snacking habits.
Barry Popkin, Ph.D., and Carmen Piernas, "Trends In Snacking Among U.S. Children", Health Affairs, March 02, 2010, © Project HOPE
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