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J Adolesc Health. 2008 May;42(5):503-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.10.002. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Effect of snacking frequency on adolescents' dietary intakes and meeting national recommendations.

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  • 1US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food Surveys Research Group, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA.



To determine how snacking level impacts intake of nutrients and food groups and assists in meeting recommendations outlined in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid Food Guidance System.


Dietary data based on 24-hour recall from 4357 adolescents 12-19 years of age participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004 (NHANES) were analyzed. Regression analyses were applied to examine the effect of snacking on nutrient and food group intake and to determine its effect on the likelihood of meeting MyPyramid recommendations.


Food energy, carbohydrate, total sugars, and vitamin C intake were positively associated, whereas protein and fat intake were negatively associated, with snacking frequency. Fruit intake increased, whereas solid fat intake decreased, as snacking incidence rose. Increasing snacking frequency was also associated with a greater likelihood of meeting milk and oil recommendations for boys and meeting fruit recommendations for both genders. Non-Hispanic black adolescents were less likely to meet their milk recommendations at low and high snacking levels and more likely to meet their fruit recommendations at high levels only. Foods consumed as snacks provided 12-39% of the day's total number of portions of the five MyPyramid food groups, 35% of total discretionary calorie intake, and 43% of total added sugar intake.


Snacking frequency affects intake of macronutrients and a few micronutrients and promotes consumption of fruits. Top food choices for snacks provide an excess of discretionary calories in the form of added sugars and fats. Modification of these choices would assist adolescents in consuming diets more consistent with national recommendations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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