Snacking patterns influence energy and nutrient intakes but not body mass index


Jeffrey S Hampl,
Department of Nutrition,
Arizona State University,
7001 E. Williams Field Road,
Mesa, AZ 85212, USA
Tel.: 480 727-1718
Fax: 480 727-1064


Objective  To study dietary intake and body mass index (BMI) patterns among US adults, stratified by snacking patterns.

Design  The 1994–1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) provided the study sample. Snacking episodes were defined as a ‘food and/or beverage break’, and subjects were classified as morning, afternoon, evening, multiple or never snackers.

Subjects/setting  Our study included data from 1756 men and 1511 women who provided two nonconsecutive, multiple-pass 24-h dietary recalls.

Statistical analyses  Mean values of each subject's two 24-h recalls were used for analyses, and data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) for Windows and SUDAAN.

Results  Compared with women, men were more likely to be evening, multiple or never snackers. Male multiple snackers had significantly higher energy intakes than did afternoon and never snackers, whereas female multiple snackers had higher energy intakes than did morning, evening and never snackers. At the same time, male and female multiple snackers had more prudent energy-adjusted intakes of protein, cholesterol, calcium and sodium. Coffee, cola, milk, ice cream and fruits were among the most frequently consumed snacks by men and women. The BMI did not differ significantly across snacker categories.

Conclusions  These data indicate that snacking patterns have some effects on energy and nutrient intakes but not on BMI. Snack food choices remain a concern, especially beverages, including those that are sweetened. Vegetables and fruits as snacks should be encouraged.