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

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

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.