Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Snack Consumption Pattern among Adolescent Nigerian Urban Secondary School Girls

Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Snack Consumption Pattern among Adolescent Nigerian Urban Secondary School Girls

Article excerpt


A snack is a light food eaten in between the main meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacking is a key characteristic of the diet of majority of adolescents and it has been estimated to provide one-fourth to one-third of their daily energy intake (1). The choice of snacks in adolescents is based mainly on taste rather than nutrition, resulting in the tendency to choose salty, high-sugar or high-fat foods as snacks instead of healthier alternatives (2). Soft drinks are one of the most common snack choices among adolescent schoolgirls (3). Among adolescents, fruits and vegetables are chosen less frequently as snacks (2). The dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity in the paediatric age group in the past three decades has led to concerns about the dietary pattern of children and adolescents (4,5). In addition, habits acquired during adolescence tend to persist into adulthood. In this context, dietary behaviour developed in adolescence may have a major effect on the risk of chronic disease later in life. It has been emphasized that health-care providers should not only be alert toward unhealthy eating habits and nutrition-related issues among adolescents, but also, provide adequate and timely counselling (6). Health education and promotion in the schools cannot succeed in the absence of a carefully conceived school health programme based on data on snacking pattern. Yet these data are neither well known nor documented (7).

The prevalence of snacking among adolescents varies widely. The report of one study indicated that 80-90% of adolescent females consumed at least one snack per day, with a range of one to seven snacks daily (1). Different snacking rates have been reported from various countries. For instance, 87-88% in USA (2,8), 62.1% in India (9) and 54.1% in Malaysia (10). A rising trend in the prevalence of snacking among adolescents has been reported (8). Generally speaking, adolescents as a group, are highly receptive to new food products and snack-type meals.

Some undesirable health outcomes that have been linked to snacking include obesity, skipping of meals, unhealthy food choices and poor nutrient intake (11- 14). Despite the recognized undesirable health outcome of snacking among adolescents, published studies reporting pattern of snack consumption among Nigerian adolescents is very scarce. A search of the literature indicated that information on the specific contexts in which adolescent Nigerians snack is grossly lacking. The aim of the present study was to describe the pattern of snack consumption among adolescent Nigerian secondary schoolgirls. The knowledge derived from this study will assist those involved in health education and promotion of healthy eating habits among adolescents.


This descriptive-cross-sectional study was conducted in two public secondary schools located in Oredo Local Government Area (OLGA), Edo State, Nigeria. The two schools were for girls only. According to Edo State Ministry of Education Statistics, there are nine public secondary schools in the LGA comprising 4 females-only, 3 co-educational and 2 males-only (15). Consent for the study was obtained from the school authorities. The teachers distributed parental consent forms to parents via the students asking for permission for the child to participate in the study. Of the four girls' secondary schools, two were randomly selected by ballot. The total population of students in the two schools selected was school A 1,605 and school B 772, giving a grand total of 2,377, which was the target study population. The survey was designed to include all the students in the two schools (schools A and B). As a consequence, no sampling was performed. The principal of each of the two schools introduced the authors during the morning assembly. Subsequently, we addressed the students in their classrooms on the objectives of the study as well as on how to accurately fill the questionnaire. We also emphasized to the students that the questionnaires were anonymous and that their participation was voluntary. …

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