FRIDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Snacking accounts for 25 percent of the calories consumed by Americans each day and beverages account for half of those snacking calories, a new study indicates.
Since the 1970s, snacking has grown to become a "fourth meal" that averages 580 calories per day, said Richard D. Mattes, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind.
Because many Americans don't think about calories in beverages, they're less likely to take those calories into account, he noted.
The study also found that secondary eating (consumption while doing another activity) increased from 15 minutes per day in 2006 to nearly 30 minutes in 2008, and secondary drinking rose from 45 minutes to 85 minutes per day.
During that same period, the time spent eating primary meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) remained steady at 70 minutes.
The study was presented recently at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in New Orleans.
The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how to make healthy food choices.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Institute of Food Technologists, news release, June 21, 2011
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