Policy Update: Snacking Increase Among US Children
May 22

Policy Update: Snacking Increase Among US Children

By Kelly Regan, Let's Move Pittsburgh

To increase awareness of children’s health and wellness initiatives, Phipps' Let’s Move Pittsburgh project provides Policy Update, a column on local, state and national health policies that impact you.

A recent examination of snacking trends among US children, based on energy density and food source, revealed a significant increase in energy intake from snacks among all socio-demographic groups. What does this mean? Kids are snacking more, a lot more, which is no surprise when looking at the corresponding rise in overweight and obesity rates among US children in the past three decades. According to the study, salty snacks were the worst offender, as the intake nearly doubled from 1977 to 2014, and more than tripled in the 2-5 year old age group.1

More surprising, however, is that while all demographics showed an increase, the study showed that “children in the lowest poverty level and household education groups had more than 100% increase in calorie intake from snacks from 1977 to 2014.”1 Why is this group in particular more susceptible to unhealthy snacking habits? While no one answer was named in this article, it is likely that these children live in areas with poor food access, low walkability, and have decreased access to parks and opportunities for organized sports.

While this study paints a bleak picture, there is hope that the new policy changes coming to nutrition facts labels may curb the intake of snacks of the less-healthy variety. The label changes include an increased font for calorie count, a total sugar and added sugar amount, and changes to the daily vitamin content.2 To read more about these changes, check out our Policy Update blog from March. 

Read more about the snacking study here.



1. Dunford, E. K., and B. M. Popkin. "37 year Snacking Trends for US Children 1977–2014." Wiley Online Library. Pediatric Obesity, 16 May 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.

2. Regan, Kelly. "Policy Update: Changes to Nutrition Facts Labels." Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. N.p., 18 Apr. 2017. Web. 23 March 2017.