There is a need for policies that ensure healthier food options to unhealthy snacking in both urban and rural locations in north and south India, according to a study recently published in The Journal of Nutrition.
Studies from high-income countries have shown the link between snack consumption and metabolic risk factors, but very few studies have addressed this issue in low- and middle-income countries. To bridge this knowledge gap, the authors explored patterns of snack consumption behavior and its associations with metabolic risk factors in Indian adults. A food frequency questionnaire was used to assess snack consumption in adults living in rural and urban regions of India. A questionnaire was used to collect information pertaining to demographic factors (age and sex) snacking behavior (timing, reasons, preferences). Metabolic risk factors such as percent body fat, central adiposity, and fasting blood glucose were also measured.
This study highlights important evidence related to snack consumption behavior among rural and urban Indian adults. Most of the participants consumed savory snacks, while sweet snacks were consumed less frequently. Sex, employment, wealth, place of residence, and cost were important determinants of snacking behavior. Higher snack consumption was associated with higher metabolic risk. Participants preferred to purchase out-of-home prepared snacks and eat them at home while watching television or with family and friends. The reasons for snacking were hunger, craving, liking, and availability. Snack consumption was higher in Southern India than in Northern India, among women than men, and the wealthiest. Frequent consumers of snacks had 2 times higher likelihood for having obesity, central adiposity, higher percent body fat, and higher fasting glucose than consumers who consumed snacks rarely.
Results show that there is a need for improving consumer knowledge and promoting healthier snack behavior. Additionally, these results strongly suggest the need to improve the food environment by promoting policies for ensuring healthier food options to unhealthy snacking, and thereby reduce associated metabolic risk. This study highlights the need for a better understanding of how modern food systems shape dietary patterns and eating behaviors in both urban and rural locations. Multiple factors associated with snacking behaviors were identified, which in turn can guide public health officials to promote food environments that foster healthy food choices.
Ganpule A, Dubey M, Pandey H, Venkateshmurthy NS, Green R, Brown KA, Maddury AP, Khatkar R, Jarhyan P, Prabhakaran D, Mohan S. Snacking Behavior and Association with Metabolic Risk Factors in Adults from North and South India. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 2, February 2023, Pages 523-531, doi.org/10.1016/j.tjnut.2022.12.032.
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