Snacking: Understanding The Demographic Characteristics

Snacking is a serious matter which affects the health of the people as well as their eating patterns. This in turn has a significant effect on the economy of a country. Yes, your health is important for the country because it will affect your working potential and therefore the income of the government.

It’s for these reason governments of different countries have formulated specific guidelines for snacking. These guidelines were set up after researching the snacking habits and patterns of the citizens in different areas.


These snacking demographics are evaluated by different countries including:

  • United States
  • Australia
  • England
  • Brazil
  • France
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • China
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden and
  • The United Arab Emirates.

Different respondents for different snacking occasions were defined. This was done with intent. The intention was to direct  adults and children in these countries in large proportions in specific sectors towards frequent snacking.

This is dependent on the specific areas concerned. It’s also dependent on the patterns in which adults, children, young adults and women in several areas of these countries eat snacks. Recommendations for the snack choices to them are made according to the newly set nutrition guidelines of the government.

Snacking and difference in daily energy intake

In some countries such as Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Greece, France and the United States snacking is an important factor. This is because it significantly contributes to the daily intake of energy by the people. The national survey data of different countries show different results.

  • For example, the national survey data of both Brazil and Mexico show that roughly 74% Brazilians and 73% Mexicans consume about 1.6 snacks per day on an average. It shows that these snacks contribute to their energy intake daily to the tune of 21% for the Brazilians and 12% for the Mexicans. When it comes to those Brazilian people who snack about three times or more in a day have a daily energy intake of about 35% with a little less when the Mexicans are considered.
  • On the other hand, in both Canada and the United States survey reports on snacks delivery and consumption it is found that snacks encompass nearly 23% of energy intake for the adults each day for the Canadians and 24% for adult Americans.
  • In Greece the reports suggest that the snacks contains about 33.5% of energy intake. This is about 628 kcal per day for the adults wherein 87% of the Greek adults never skipped snacks.
  • When the dietary intake of the French adults were studied, the reports suggested that on an average about 18.5% of daily energy intake comprised of the snacks that these adults take on a regular basis.

The snack data was analyzed on the basis of age and sex. It was found that women tend to snack more than men. However, no discernable trends are available on a global scale for this matter.

Snacking habits and trends

Trends of having small meals and snacks are seen to be growing in people all over the world. A study reports show significant variance in here as well such as:

  • Men in Finland are found to snack more than women but it is found to be more or less similar in men and women of Greece.
  • In Brazil the snacking habits of adults above 60 years is found to be more energy specific.
  • When it comes to senior citizens of Canada over the age of 71 years, their daily energy intake from snacks are found to be the lowest.
  • The adolescents in Canada aged between 14 and 18 years consume snacks more and have the highest energy intake daily. This is compared to about 30% in adult males and an approximate 28% in females for their daily calorie intake from snacks.
  • The people between 19 and 39 years in the United States and Mexico have low amount of daily energy intake by contrast and as for the American children it is roughly 27% of daily energy intake from their snacks.
  • In both China and Mexico by contrast it is found that children usually snack more frequently as compared to the adults in these two regions.

Lastly, in the United Arab Emirates the women were found to snack more than the children. Surprisingly no such data is available for the snacking habits of the Emirati men for comparison.

Snacking recommendations

The recommendations for snacking are based largely on the nutrient insufficiencies and the nutrition policy of the respective governments.

Most of these countries usually have their dietary guidelines. These guidelines are based on snacks or snack foods. But, there are several countries that caution against a few specific types of snack foods such as sweet, savory or salty snacks.

The suggestions and recommendations do not mention anything about health promoting foods and other alternatives. Therefore these are found to be very confusing. For example:

  • The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations have no mention about healthy snacks
  • The Omani Guide to Healthy Eating recommends wise selection of snacks
  • The Australian Eat for Health Guide is based on legumes, seeds and nuts for snacks
  • The snack suggestions of the Brazilian dietary guidelines list a few foods such as yogurt, milk, and nuts.

However, whether it is Nordic, Omani or Australian guide, all limits sugary and savory snack foods simply because these are high in sugar, salt, and fat content.

  • On the other hand, dietary regulations of countries such as Greenland, France, Sweden, and Switzerland lay special emphasis on milk and dairy products as well as nuts.
  • The Scientific Report of the DGA Advisory Committee prepared in 2015 recommends “healthy” and “smart snacks” selection but does not contain any list of “healthy” or “smart” snacks.

All these difference in dietary regulations regarding snacking needs clarifying the definition of snacks and snack foods along with a few suggestions for health promoting snacks for different eating occasions and locations.

Watch this space for regular updates in Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


Staff Writer

Running Wolf's Rant's correspondent who chooses to remain anonymous...

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