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J Am Diet Assoc. 1994 Dec;94(12):1398-403.

Snacking patterns among 1,800 adults and children.

Author information

  • 1Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032.



To study snacking behavior, including frequency, time of day, location, and qualities sought in snack choices.


A survey questionnaire was designed for use by trained telephone interviewers to interview adults and for self-administration by students in the fifth and sixth grades.


A national random sample was drawn of 1,510 adults, and a nonrandom sample was drawn of 290 fifth and sixth graders attending schools in four states.


Adults were randomly selected by a computerized telephone directory system from 48 states (Hawaii and Alaska were excluded). The five schools surveyed were selected to represent a major inner city (Atlanta, Ga), a suburban area (Englewood, NJ), a midsize city (two schools in St Louis, Mo), and a rural area (Hickman, Calif).


The majority of children in all age groups snacked at least once daily. Morning was the least common and afternoon was the most common time for snacking. Almost all snacking occurred at home. In the selection of snacks, taste outranked nutrition as the most important characteristic of a snack. Fruits were popular with all age groups, but overall they were chosen less often at snacktime than foods from other categories.


Snacking should be targeted with specific nutrition education messages that address the influences of time of day, location, and qualities of foods on snack choices.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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