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Many Kids Skipping Meals, Snacking Instead
Date:11/11/2010

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 children.

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 incre
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