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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2008 Apr;46(4):429-37. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e318163b850.

Could the savory taste of snacks be a further risk factor for overweight in children?

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  • 1Department of Mother and Child, Biology-Genetics, Section of Pediatrics, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.



The quantity, type and composition of snack foods may play a role in the development and maintenance of obesity in children. A high consumption of energy-dense snacks may promote fat gain.


To assess the type and number of snacks consumed weekly by a large sample of 8- to 10-year-old children, as well as to assess its relationship with body size.


The children consumed on average 4 snacks per day. There was no statistical difference in the number of servings per day between obese and nonobese children. However, the mean energy density of the foods consumed was significantly higher for obese and overweight children than for normal weight children [6.8 (0.3) kJ/g, 6.8 (0.16) kJ/g, and 6.3 (0.08) kJ/g, respectively; P < 0.05]. Logistic regression analysis showed that the energy density of the snacks (kJ/g), their savory taste (servings/week), television viewing (hours/day) and sports activity (hours/week) independently contributed to predict obesity in children. However, when the parents' body mass index was included among the independent variables of the regression, only salty foods and sports activity showed an independent association with childhood obesity.


Parents' eating habits and lifestyle influence those of their children, as suggested by the association between parents' obesity and their children's energy-dense food intake at snacktime, the savory taste of snacks and sedentary behavior. However, regardless of parents' body mass index, the preference for savory snacks seems to be associated with overweight in prepubertal children.

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