Snacking associated with increased calories, decreased nutrients

March 13, 2012 By Rosalie Marion Bliss
Snacking associated with increased calories, decreased nutrients
Snacks are providing about one-third (32 percent for women and 31 percent for men) of all daily calories, based on ARS national "What We Eat in America" survey analysis. Credit: Peggy Greb

Snacking is a dietary behavior that has increased in recent decades in the United States, while percentages of the population who are overweight and obese also have increased. Now, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers with the Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) in Beltsville, Md., have examined dietary intake survey data from more than 5,000 adults aged 20 years and older to focus on snacking habits, which are associated with increased caloric intake and decreased nutrient intake.

The survey group is part of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

The ARS national "What We Eat in America" computerized dietary survey interview is conducted continuously, and data are reported in 2-year groupings. The snacking analysis indicates that snacks provide about one-third (32 percent for women and 31 percent for men) of all daily calories from "," which are calories from solid fats and added sugars ( that provide little nutritional value). Caloric sweeteners added to foods during processing are referred to as "added sugars."

The average intake of empty calories for men aged 20 and older surveyed was 923 calories per day. So men, on average, are consuming two to three times their limit in the solid fats and added sugars category. For women aged 20 and older, the average intake of empty calories was 624 . So women, on average, are consuming almost two to four times their limit in that category.

There is a positive side to snacking, according to FSRG nutritionist Rhonda Sebastian, who headed up the analysis of snacking patterns. Snacks provide just over one-third of the total daily fruit intake for both men and women, which is already low in the .

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage reducing intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars, and there is a limit based on an individual's overall calorie needs. To find your limit, go to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. From there, click on "Supertracker and other tools" to create a profile and get your personalized nutrition and physical activity plan.

Explore further: Monitoring the population's food and supplement intakes

More information: Read more about the ARS national program for human nutrition monitoring in a 3-part series featured in the March 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Related Stories

Monitoring the population's food and supplement intakes

March 8, 2012
Collecting data on what the U.S. population actually consumes is a key nutrition monitoring step. Nutritionists then translate "foods eaten" into "nutrients consumed." This snapshot of the population's food-nutrient intakes ...

American snacking habits to blame for obesity: study

July 1, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in PLoS Medicine, researchers have shown that it is not only the American habit of “super-sizing” meals that is leading to obesity, but the number of snacks and meals ...

Recommended for you

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

The environmental injustice of beauty

August 16, 2017
Women of color have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, according to a commentary published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors say ...

Heavily used pesticide linked to breathing problems in farmworkers' children

August 15, 2017
Elemental sulfur, the most heavily used pesticide in California, may harm the respiratory health of children living near farms that use the pesticide, according to new research led by UC Berkeley.

Taking a stand on staying mobile after 80

August 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you want to stay as fit as possible well into your 80s, the answer may be as simple as standing on your own two feet.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.