Skip to main content Accessibility help

Snacking patterns among Chilean children and adolescents: is there potential for improvement?

  • Melissa L Jensen (a1) (a2), Camila Corvalán (a3), Marcela Reyes (a3), Barry M Popkin (a1) and Lindsey Smith Taillie (a1)...



To examine snacking patterns, food sources and nutrient profiles of snacks in low- and middle-income Chilean children and adolescents.


Cross-sectional. Dietary data were collected via 24 h food recalls. We determined the proportion of snackers, snacks per day and energy from top food and beverage groups consumed. We compared the nutrient profile (energy, sodium, total sugars and saturated fat) of snacks v. meals.


South-east region of Chile.


Children and adolescents from two cohorts: the Food Environment Chilean Cohort (n 958, 4–6 years old) and the Growth and Obesity Cohort Study (n 752, 12–14 years old).


With a mean of 2·30 (se 0·03) snacks consumed daily, 95·2 % of children and 89·9 % of adolescents reported at least one snacking event. Snacks contributed on average 1506 kJ/d (360 kcal/d) in snacking children and 2218 kJ/d (530 kcal/d) in snacking adolescents (29·0 and 27·4 % daily energy contribution, respectively). Grain-based desserts, salty snacks, other sweets and desserts, dairy foods and cereal-based foods contributed the most energy from snacks in the overall sample. For meals, cereal-based foods, dairy beverages, meat and meat substitutes, oils and fats, and fruits and vegetables were the top energy contributors.


Widespread snacking among Chilean youth provides over a quarter of their daily energy and includes foods generally considered high in energy, saturated fat, sodium and/or total sugars. Future research should explore whether snacking behaviours change as the result of Chile’s national regulations on food marketing, labelling and school environments.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email


Hide All
1. Popkin, BM (2006) Global nutrition dynamics: the world is shifting rapidly toward a diet linked with noncommunicable diseases. Am J Clin Nutr 84, 289298.10.1093/ajcn/84.2.289
2. Malik, VS, Willett, WC & Hu, FB (2013) Global obesity: trends, risk factors and policy implications. Nat Rev Endocrinol 9, 1327.10.1038/nrendo.2012.199
3. Rivera, JA, Pedraza, LS, Martorell, R et al. (2014) Introduction to the double burden of undernutrition and excess weight in Latin America. Am J Clin Nutr 100, issue 6, 1613S1616S.10.3945/ajcn.114.084806
4. Uauy, R, Albala, C & Kain, J (2001) Obesity trends in Latin America: transiting from under- to overweight. J Nutr 131, issue 3, 893S899S.
5. Rivera, , de Cossío, TG, Pedraza, LS et al. (2014) Childhood and adolescent overweight and obesity in Latin America: a systematic review. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2, 321332.10.1016/S2213-8587(13)70173-6
6. Corvalán, C, Garmendia, M, Jones-Smith, J et al. (2017) Nutrition status of children in Latin America. Obes Rev 18, 718.10.1111/obr.12571
7. Lawlor, DA, Benfield, L, Logue, J et al. (2010) Association between general and central adiposity in childhood, and change in these, with cardiovascular risk factors in adolescence: prospective cohort study. BMJ 341, c6224.10.1136/bmj.c6224
8. Ministerio de Salud, Gobierno de Chile (2017) Encuesta Nacional de Salud 2016–2017. Primeros Resultados. (accessed June 2018).
9. Ministerio de Salud, Gobierno de Chile (2010) Encuesta Nacional de Salud 2009–2010. (accessed August 2017).
10. Cediel, G, Reyes, M, da Costa Louzada, ML et al. (2018) Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the Chilean diet (2010). Public Health Nutr 21, 125133.
11. Monteiro, CA, Cannon, G, Moubarac, J-C et al. (2015) Dietary guidelines to nourish humanity and the planet in the twenty-first century. A blueprint from Brazil. Public Health Nutr 18, 23112322.
12. Canella, DS, Levy, RB, Martins, AP et al. (2014) Ultra-processed food products and obesity in Brazilian households (2008–2009). PLoS One 9, e92752.10.1371/journal.pone.0092752
13. Mendonca, RD, Pimenta, AM, Gea, A et al. (2016) Ultraprocessed food consumption and risk of overweight and obesity: the University of Navarra Follow-Up (SUN) cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr 104, 14331440.10.3945/ajcn.116.135004
14. Mendonca, RD, Lopes, AC, Pimenta, AM et al. (2017) Ultra-processed food consumption and the incidence of hypertension in a Mediterranean cohort: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra Project. Am J Hypertens 30, 358366.
15. Departamento de Nutrición, Universidad de Chile (2010) Encuesta Nacional de Consumo Alimentario. (accessed August 2017).
16. Nishi, SK, Jessri, M & L’Abbe, M (2018) Assessing the dietary habits of Canadians by eating location and occasion: findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2. Nutrients 10, E682.10.3390/nu10060682
17. Dunford, EK & Popkin, BM (2017) 37 year snacking trends for US children 1977–2014. Pediatr Obes 13, 247255.10.1111/ijpo.12220
18. Dunford, EK & Popkin, BM (2017) Disparities in snacking trends in US adults over a 35 year period from 1977 to 2012. Nutrients 9, E809.10.3390/nu9080809
19. Duffey, KJ, Pereira, RA & Popkin, BM (2013) Prevalence and energy intake from snacking in Brazil: analysis of the first nationwide individual survey. Eur J Clin Nutr 67, 868874.10.1038/ejcn.2013.60
20. Taillie, LS, Afeiche, MC, Eldridge, AL et al. (2015) Increased snacking and eating occasions are associated with higher energy intake among Mexican children aged 2–13 years. J Nutr 145, 25702577.10.3945/jn.115.213165
21. Duffey, KJ, Rivera, JA & Popkin, BM (2014) Snacking is prevalent in Mexico. J Nutr 144, 18431849.
22. Beckerman, JP, Alike, Q, Lovin, E et al. (2017) The development and public health implications of food preferences in children. Front Nutr 4, 66.
23. Duffey, KJ & Popkin, BM (2013) Causes of increased energy intake among children in the US, 1977–2010. Am J Prev Med 44, e1e8.
24. Berteus Forslund, H, Torgerson, JS, Sjostrom, L et al. (2005) Snacking frequency in relation to energy intake and food choices in obese men and women compared to a reference population. Int J Obes (Lond) 29, 711719.
25. Chapelot, D (2011) The role of snacking in energy balance: a biobehavioral approach. J Nutr 141, 158162.
26. Larson, NI, Miller, JM, Watts, AW et al. (2016) Adolescent snacking behaviors are associated with dietary intake and weight status. J Nutr 146, 13481355.
27. Hess, JM, Jonnalagadda, SS & Slavin, JL (2016) What is a snack, why do we snack, and how can we choose better snacks? A review of the definitions of snacking, motivations to snack, contributions to dietary intake, and recommendations for improvement. Adv Nutr 7, 466475.
28. Kain, J, Corvalan, C, Lera, L et al. (2009) Accelerated growth in early life and obesity in preschool Chilean children. Obesity (Silver Spring) 17, 16031608.
29. Gaskins, AJ, Pereira, A, Quintiliano, D et al. (2017) Dairy intake in relation to breast and pubertal development in Chilean girls. Am J Clin Nutr 105, 11661175.
30. Cerda, R, Barrera, C, Arena, M et al. (2010) Atlas Fotográfico de Alimentos y Preparaciones Típicas Chilenas, primera edición ed. Santiago: Universidad de Chile.
31. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2016) USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. (accessed July 2017).
32. Quintiliano, D & Jara, M (2016) Protocolo Sistema de Clasificación de los Alimentos – CEPOC. Santiago: Universidad de Chile.
33. Ministerio de Salud, Gobierno de Chile (2012) Ley 20606: Sobre composición nutricional de los alimentos y su publicidad. (accessed August 2017).
34. Corvalan, C, Reyes, M, Garmendia, ML et al. (2019) Structural responses to the obesity and non-communicable diseases epidemic: update on the Chilean law of food labelling and advertising. Obes Rev 20, 367374.
35. Pan American Health Organization (2016) Nutrient Profile Model. (accessed July 2016).
36. Correa-Burrows, P, Burrows, R, Orellana, Y et al. (2015) The relationship between unhealthy snacking at school and academic outcomes: a population study in Chilean schoolchildren. Public Health Nutr 18, 20222030.
37. Bustos, N, Kain, J, Leyton, B et al. (2010) Snacks usually consumed by children from public schools: motivations for their selection. Rev Chil Nutr 37, 178183.
38. Ministerio de Salud & Ministerio de Educación, Gobierno de Chile (2016) Guía de Kioskos y Colaciones Saludables. (accessed September 2018).
39. Fraser, B (2013) Latin American countries crack down on junk food. Lancet 382, 385386.
40. Prochownik, K, Vera-Vergara, M & Cheskin, L (2015) New regulations for foods offered to school children in Chile: barriers to implementation. Int J Nutr 1, 2938.
41. Bustos, N, Kain, J, Leyton, Br et al. (2011) Changes in food consumption pattern among Chilean school children after the implementation of a healthy kiosk. Arch Latinoam Nutr 61, 302307.
42. Corvalán, C, Reyes, M, Garmendia, ML et al. (2013) Structural responses to the obesity and non-communicable diseases epidemic: the Chilean Law of Food Labeling and Advertising. Obes Rev 14, Suppl. 2, 7987.
43. Letona, P, Chacon, V, Roberto, C et al. (2014) A qualitative study of children’s snack food packaging perceptions and preferences. BMC Public Health 14, 1274.
44. Hess, JM & Slavin, JL (2018) The benefits of defining ‘snacks’. Physiol Behav 193, 284287.
45. Duffey, KJ & Popkin, BM (2011) Energy density, portion size, and eating occasions: contributions to increased energy intake in the United States, 1977–2006. PLoS Med 8, e1001050.
46. Gobierno de Chile, Ministerio de Educación (2017) Estadísticas de la Educación 2016. (accessed November 2018).


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Jensen et al. supplementary material
Jensen et al. supplementary material

 Word (24 KB)
24 KB

Snacking patterns among Chilean children and adolescents: is there potential for improvement?

  • Melissa L Jensen (a1) (a2), Camila Corvalán (a3), Marcela Reyes (a3), Barry M Popkin (a1) and Lindsey Smith Taillie (a1)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed