Study Links Large Portion Size To Snack Consumption In Children

March 28, 2011
Study Links Large Portion Size To Snack Consumption In Children

Snacks served in large portions increased the amount consumed with a potential correlation to obesity in preschool-aged children, according to a recent study from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. An article on the study appears in the March issue of Food Nutrition & Science.

"What makes this current study significant is that it looks at snacks specifically," said Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science and CEO of The Lempert Report and in a prepared statement. "Since young children consume a large amount of energy from snacks, it's important to look at the relationship that snack portion size and energy density has on energy intake in this age group. With childhood obesity on the rise, parents and educators need to be thoughtful about the types of snacks they provide."

"Portion size is an environmental cue," said Shannon Looney, MPH, RD, doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "The cue triggers the behavior of eating. A larger cue most likely triggers a larger response. Eating continues because the food is there."
This is one of the first studies conducted on children with snacks. Previous studies have reviewed entrees, but found energy intake to be substantially affected by energy density, not portion size.

Also in the March edition of Food Nutrition & Science, a recent report, from researchers at Maastricht University and New Mexico State University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that taxing high-fat foods to change purchasing behaviors may not work, and may actually backfire in some consumers. The report looked at imposing junk-food taxes and posting calorie counts as strategies for combating obesity.

Other articles include an interview with Alexander Renzi, the co-founder of Goji Cereal; an interview with Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a "sustainable" cattle rancher in the Flint Hills of Kansas and a mother of five school-aged children; a discussion with Dennis Salazar, president of Salazar Packaging, Inc., an innovator of green and sustainable packaging who manufactures boxes made from 100 percent post-consumer waste content corrugated material; and a bylined article from Tina Miller, MS RD, Meijer Markets who, as the company's Healthy Living Advisor, discusses how she works best with her customers.

"Over the next two years, we will see a dramatic change in how our goods are packaged--everything from beverages and detergents to food and sundries," says Lempert. He adds, "It won't strictly be a decrease in the amount of packaging per item, but the materials that are used. Innovation in eco-packaging -- like we see with Mr. Salazar -- will be at an all-time high."

Food Nutrition & Science is a free monthly newsletter with articles relating to retailers, manufacturers, farmers, nutritionists, educators, government agencies and more. It's also a newsletter that services members of the National Grocer Association and offers breaking food news and articles on food safety and industry-wide green initiatives. Food Nutrition & Science is committed to covering topics and trends that interest anyone with a stake in the food industry including supermarket retailers, food manufacturers and consumers. Each issue contains an interview with a farmer.

For more information or to subscribe to Food Nutrition & Science, please visit