According to a new study to be published in the Journal of Nutrition, eating snacks doesn’t necessarily correlate with being overweight—at least when it comes to adolescents. However, children who munch on snacks are more likely to have poor diets and unhealthy eating habits.
Researchers looked at 2,793 schoolchildren to see the impact that snacking had on their weight. The children completed surveys on their eating habits and recorded details of their diets. The mean age of the children was 14.4 years old, and slightly more than half were boys.
The researchers looked at many factors, including how often the children ate snacks, whether they ate snacks while watching television, and the number of snack servings they had each week.
The researchers also controlled for the children’s socioeconomic status, activity level, and weight loss techniques, ensuring that these and other confounding factors had no impact on the study’s results.
Contrary to popular belief, the study found that snacking did not increase the likelihood that children would be overweight. Children who frequently ate snacks while watching TV were not any more likely to be overweight or have a higher body mass index (BMI).
However, children who ate more servings of energy-dense food were more likely to have higher BMIs. This means that it may not be snacking which contributes to weight gain, but rather the types of snacks that are eaten.
However, children who snacked were more likely to have poorer diets. They were found to eat less fruits and vegetables, consume more sugary drinks, and eat more fast-food.
While snacking may not be linked to being overweight, the results of the study suggest that children who eat more snacks are more likely to have unhealthy diets.
There are a variety of health problems that can arise from unhealthy diets. Sugar consumption is linked to gum disease, tooth decay, and diabetes, while fatty foods can increase people’s risk of heart disease.
Source for Today’s Article:
Larson, N.I., et al, “Adolescent Snacking Behaviors Are Associated with Dietary Intake and Weight Status,” Journal of Nutrition, June 8, 2016, pii: jn230334. [Epub ahead of print; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27281807.