Energy intake from unhealthy snack food/beverage among 12-23-month-old children in urban Nepal.Matern Child Nutr. 2019 06; 15 Suppl 4:e12775.MC
Unhealthy snack food and beverage (USFB) consumption among young children has been noted in many low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC), however, there is a lack of information on the contribution of these foods to children's diets in these contexts. This study describes the nutrient profiles and costs of snacks consumed by young children in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, and assesses the proportion of total energy intake from nonbreastmilk foods (%TEI-NBF) contributed by USFB and factors associated with high USFB consumption. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 745 randomly sampled primary caregivers of children aged 12-23 months. Of 239 unique snack foods and beverages consumed, 180 (75.3%) were classified as unhealthy based on nutrient profiling, with 158 of these being commercially branded. Median cost/100 kcal of USFB was lower as compared with healthy snacks. Ninety-one percent of children had consumed a USFB in the previous 24 hr, with these foods contributing a mean %TEI-NBF of 24.5 ± 0.7 among all children. Biscuits (10.8%), candy/chocolate (3.5%), and savoury snacks (3.4%) provided the largest %TEI-NBF. Children who were older, female, or from the poorest households had significantly higher odds of high USFB consumption, whereas children whose caregivers were of upper caste/ethnicity or had achieved tertiary education had lower odds of consumption than other children. To reduce USFB consumption, interventions should seek to further understand social/cultural drivers of feeding practices, target disadvantaged populations, and ensure caregivers are fully aware of the nutritional quality of food products they choose for their children.