Socio-economic and demographic factors associated with snacking behavior in a large sample of French adults

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018 Mar 15;15(1):25. doi: 10.1186/s12966-018-0655-7.


Background: Few studies have specifically focused on demographic and socio-economic characteristics associated with snacking in adults, whereas their identification could be useful for defining effective public health measures. The aim of our study was to assess the associations of these factors with daily snacking behavior and its dietary quality.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 84,692 women and 23,491 men from the NutriNet-Santé cohort study. Occurrence of snacking, energy intake from snacks, snack nutrient, and energy densities were assessed using 24-h dietary records of weekdays at baseline. Associations between socio-economic and demographic factors (age, presence of children in the household, education, income, occupation), and snacking behavior were examined using multivariable logistic regression and analysis of covariance, stratified by sex and adjusted for total daily energy intake.

Results: Older individuals were more likely to snack during the day in both sexes while individuals with primary education (OR = 0.79 (0.71;0.87) in women; OR = 0.71 (0.60;0.83) in men), female employees (OR = 0.94 (0.89;0.99), and self-employed women were less likely to snack during the day. Older individuals, in particular middle-aged subjects, had higher snack nutrient density, and lower energy intake and density from snacks compared with younger adults. Presence of a child in the household was associated with higher energy density, lower nutrient density (in women), and lower energy intake from snacks (in men), compared with those who lived without a child in household. In low income individuals and manual workers, snacks had lower nutrient density and higher energy content than in higher socioeconomic categories. At last, energy intake from daily snacking occasions was higher in women with low education level.

Conclusions: Although snacking was less prevalent in low socioeconomic categories and young adults, their snacks had higher energy content and were of poorer nutrient density. Such findings provide useful information on mechanisms of social disparities in dietary behavior.

Trial registration: This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki. All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the French Institute for Health and Medical Research (IRB Inserm No0000388FWA00005831) and the French Data Protection Authority (Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés No.908450 and No.909216). Clinical Trial no. NCT03335644.

Keywords: Demographic factors; Dietary behavior; Eating behavior; Nutritional content; Snack; Snacking; Socioeconomic position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Energy Intake
  • Family Characteristics
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Snacks*
  • Social Class*
  • Young Adult

Associated data