Background: Previous studies have indicated that snacking is contributing to increased calories in the American diet, and that the contribution of snacks to energy intake has increased in recent decades. Objective: The objective was to examine trends in the energy intake deriving from snacks and food sources of snacks for US adults over 35 years from 1977 to 2012, and whether these trends differ across sociodemographic groups. Methods: Participants included 74,291 US adults aged ≥19 years who participated in the 1977–1978 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (NFCS); the 1989–1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII), the 1994–1996 CSFII, the 1997–1998 CSFII, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004, NHANES 2005–2006, NHANES 2009–2010 and NHANES 2011–2012; all surveys are a stratified random sample of the total civilian, non-institutionalized US population. Overall patterns of snacking, trends in energy intake from snacking, trends in snacking food and beverage sources and energy intake from snacks across racial/ethnic, age, education and income groups were examined. Results: For all US adults there was a significant increase in per capita energy intake from snacks from 1977 to 2012 (p
< 0.01). Non-Hispanic blacks had the highest snacking energy intake from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in each year (p
< 0.01 for all), with a peak intake in 2003–2006 of 76 kcal per capita per day. Intake of salty snacks increased in all groups between 1977 and 2012, with non-Hispanic blacks having the highest intake in 2009–2012 (p
< 0.01). No significant differences were found between income or education groups. Conclusions: Results show that snacking remains a significant component of the US diet and the foods consumed at these snacks (SSBs, desserts and sweets and salty snacks) are not the types of foods recommended by the US dietary guidelines. Our finding that non-Hispanic blacks are consuming a higher proportion of SSBs and salty snacks than other groups, and showing the largest increase in energy intake deriving from snacks overall over the past 35 years, is indeed concerning.
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