Snacking Adds a Meal’s Worth in Calories Daily for Most U.S. Adults

Americans are piling on the equivalent of a meal’s worth of extra calories each day from snacking, according to new research — and those foods contribute very little in the way of nutrition, since they’re typically high in carbs and sugars and low in fiber and protein.

Based on surveys of more than 23,700 adults over the age of 30, scientists found that in-between meal noshing added about 400 to 500 calories each day to the U.S. adult diet — an amount that went above what many participants ate for breakfast.

“Snacks are contributing a meal’s worth of intake to what we eat without it actually being a meal,” said senior study author Christopher Taylor, PhD, RD, a professor of medical dietetics in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, in a statement.

“You know what dinner is going to be: a protein, a side dish or two. But if you eat a meal of what you eat for snacks, it becomes a completely different scenario of, generally, carbohydrates, sugars, not much protein, not much fruit, not a vegetable. So it’s not a fully well-rounded meal.”

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