THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Many U.S. children are
eating more snacks and skipping breakfast and dinner, meals that
provide nutrients critical to youngsters' development, behavior and
overall health, a new survey has found.
The American Dietetic Association Foundation poll of 1,193 pairs
of parents and children (aged 8 to 17) found that breakfast is
sometimes missed by 42 percent of white children and Hispanic
children, and 59 percent of black children. Breakfast is rarely or
never eaten by 12 percent of white and Hispanic children, and 18
percent of black children.
Previous studies have found that missing breakfast is associated
with increased school absenteeism and tardiness, poor attention to
tasks and lower test scores, Katie Brown, national education
director for the ADA Foundation, noted in an ADA news release.
The survey also found that dinner is not eaten all the time by
22 percent of white children, 34 percent of black children and 38
percent of Hispanic children. Dinner is rarely or never eaten by 3
percent of white children and 5 percent of black and Hispanic
Snacks are often eaten to replace skipped meals, according to
the survey. Snacking immediately after school was reported by 56.7
percent of white children, 57.8 percent of black children and 59.1
percent of Hispanic children. Regular snacking in the evening after
dinner was reported by 24 to 26 percent of all the children, while
about 23 percent of white kids, 30 percent of black kids and nearly
24 percent of Hispanic kids said they often or always ate snacks
while watching television.
"The fact that children snack throughout the day provides an opportunity for parents and schools to offer nutrient-rich snacks to supplement any missed meals, and provide quality nutrition for children," Brown said in the news release.
Among the other survey findings:
- The proportion of daily family meals eaten at home increased
from 52 percent in 2003 to 73 percent in 2010, and nearly 73
percent of children are now eating at home on school nights,
compared with about 52 percent in 2003.
- Most children (51.4 percent of whites, 56.5 percent of blacks,
63.8 percent of Hispanics) said their families never or rarely
(less than once a week) eat at fast-food or sit-down
- School lunches are eaten by 56 percent of white children, 75
percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children.
Children from low-income families are most likely (82 to 89
percent) to eat school lunches.
- Most children said they would be more active if fun activities
were offered before school (59 to 79 percent), during class (80 to
89 percent) or after school (77 to 92 percent). Most also said they
would be more active if there were safe places to play in their
neighborhood (66 to 86 percent) and if their friends wanted to be
active (87 to 89 percent).
- Most families (64.4 percent) engage in sedentary activities
(watching TV or movies or playing video games) three or more days a
The survey findings were released Nov. 9 at the ADA's Food &
Nutrition Conference & Expo in Boston.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about