The article describes the after-school (AS) snacking pattern of young Canadians and its relationship with the amount of energy consumed daily and at dinner.
We analyzed cross-sectional dietary data, measured by 24h recall, from 9,131 children and adolescents aged 4 to 18 years from the Canadian Community Health Survey, cycle 2.2 (2004). We evaluated AS snack intake; i.e., foods consumed Monday to Friday between 3:00 and 6:00 pm, excluding lunch and dinner. We also assessed the consumption frequency of AS snack items, the energy provided by AS snacks and total daily energy intake (TDEI) by age group and sex.
Approximately 63% of respondents consumed AS snacks. AS snacks provided on average 1212[95%CI,1157-1268] kJ (290[95%CI,276-303] kcal), representing 13[95%CI,12-13]% of TDEI. Youth who consumed AS snacks contributing 1-418 kJ (1-99 kcal) reported lower TDEI than those who consumed no snack. Among AS snack consumers, TDEI was higher in groups consuming the highest amount of energy from AS snacks. Fruits were among the most frequently consumed food categories. However, the largest energy contributors were mostly foods that may be energy-dense and nutrient-poor, such as cookies, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
Considering that the majority of children and adolescents consumed AS snacks, that these snacks provided about 13% of their TDEI, and that the majority of the most frequently consumed snacks were generally energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, the AS time period presents an opportunity to promote healthy eating in order to improve diet quality and potentially influence TDEI among Canadian children and adolescents.