Snacks Account for Nearly One Quarter of Teens’ Calories
If it seems that teens are getting more and more of their nourishment in the form of snacks, your perception may be right on target. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service compared data from 2005-06 to a survey of adolescent snacking in the U.S. from 1977-78 and found that snacks now provide almost a quarter of teens’ daily calories (23 percent in 2005-06).
In the latest survey, one-third of added sugar in the teens’ diets came from snacks. The survey identified carbonated soft drinks, candy, fruit drinks, ice cream, and cookies as the biggest sources of added sugars in teen snacks.
- Instead of carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks, get in the habit of drinking water between meals. Milk and 100 percent fruit juice are also good choices.
- The survey showed that potato chips and tortilla chips were the most popular snack food in the grains and vegetable food groups. For healthier choices, consume baked chips made from sliced vegetables or whole grains.
- In the fruit group, look for whole fruits such as apples and pears.
In general, cut back on soft drinks and sweets such as candy and ice cream. Instead, fill up on nutrient-dense snacks such as bananas, low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, whole-grain crackers or walnuts.
Source: Susan Nitzke, UW-Extension Nutrition Specialist and Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Sciences, UW-Madison Mallory Koenings, UW-Madison Graduate Student in Nutritional Sciences