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Open Access Research

The "Snacking Child" and its social network: some insights from an italian survey

Dario Gregori1*, Francesca Foltran1, Marco Ghidina2, Federica Zobec2, Simonetta Ballali3, Laura Franchin2 and Paola Berchialla4

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Epidemiological Methods and Biostatistics, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, University of Padova, via Loredan 18, 35031 Padova, Italy

2 ZETA Research Inc., via Caccia 8, 34129 Trieste, Italy

3 Prochild ONLUS, Piazza San Giovanni 2, 34122 Trieste, Italy

4 Department of Public Health and Microbiology, University of Torino, via Santena 5 bis, 10126 Torino, Italy

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:132  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-132

Published: 29 November 2011

Abstract

Background

The hypothesis underlying this work is that the social network of a child might have an impact on the alimentary behaviors, in particular for what concerns snack consumption patterns.

Methods

1215 Italian children 6-10 ys old were interviewed using a CATI facility in January 2010. 608 "snackers" and 607 "no-snackers" were identified. Information regarding family composition, child and relatives BMI, mother perception of child weight, child, father and mother physical activity, TV watching, social network, leisure time habits and dietary habits of peers, were collected. Association of variables with the status of snacker was investigated using a multivariable logistic regression model.

Results

Snackers children seem to be part of more numerous social network (1.40 friends vs 1.14, p = 0.042) where the majority of peers are also eating snacks, this percentage being significantly higher (89.5 vs 76.3, p < 0.001) than in the "no-snacker" group. The snacking group is identified by the fact that it tends to practice at least 4 hours per week of physical activity (OR: 1.36, CI: 1.03-1.9). No evidence of an association between snacking consumption and overweight status has been shown by our study.

Conclusions

The snacking child has more active peer-to-peer social relationships, mostly related with sport activities. However, spending leisure time in sportive activities implies being part of a social environment which is definitely a positive one from the point of view of obesity control, and indeed, no increase of overweight/obesity is seen in relation to snack consumption.

Keywords:
snacks; overweight in children; social networks; physical activity