Number of Eating Occasions and Source of Foods and Drinks Among Young Children in the United States: NHANES, 2009⁻2014

Nutrients. 2019 Apr 21;11(4):897. doi: 10.3390/nu11040897.


An understanding of the source of children's foods and drinks is needed to identify the best intervention points for programs and policies aimed at improving children's diets. The mean number and type of eating occasions and the relative proportions of foods and drinks consumed from different sources were calculated among children aged 1-4 years (n = 2640) using data from the 2009-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Children consumed 2.9 meals and 2.4 snacks each day. Among children who received anything from childcare, childcare provided 36.2% of their foods and drinks. The majority of foods and drinks came from stores for all children (53.2% among those receiving anything from childcare and 84.9% among those not). Among children receiving food from childcare, childcare is an important source of foods and drinks. Because most foods and drinks consumed by children come from stores, parents and caregivers may benefit from nutrition education to promote healthful choices when buying foods.

Keywords: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; child; food source; meal patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Beverages*
  • Caregivers
  • Child Care*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Commerce
  • Diet*
  • Eating
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Parents
  • Snacks
  • United States