Frequency of Sweet and Salty Snack Food Consumption Is Associated with Higher Intakes of Overconsumed Nutrients and Weight-For-Length z Scores During Infancy and Toddlerhood

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2022 Aug;122(8):1534-1542. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2022.02.013. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


Background: Current dietary guidelines recommend avoiding foods and beverages with added sugars and higher sodium before age 2 years.

Objective: The aim was to describe daily snack food intake (frequency and total energy) and the associations with overconsumed nutrients (added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats) and child weight-for-length z scores.

Design: A cross-sectional, secondary analysis of baseline data from an ongoing longitudinal intervention was conducted.

Participants and setting: A sample of 141 caregivers with infants (aged 9 to 11 months) and toddlers (aged 12 to 15 months) was recruited in Buffalo, NY, between 2017 and 2019.

Main outcome measures: Three 24-hour dietary recalls were used to categorize 'sweet and salty snack foods' or 'commercial baby snack foods' based on the US Department of Agriculture What We Eat in America food group classifications and estimate nutrient intakes. Child recumbent length and weight were measured by trained researchers.

Statistical analysis: Daily frequency (times/day), energy (kcal/day), and overconsumed nutrients from snack food intake were calculated. Multivariable regression models examined associations between the frequency of and energy from snack food intake with overconsumed nutrients and child weight-for-length z scores.

Results: Infants consumed snack foods on average 1.2 times/day contributing 5.6% of total daily energy, 19.6% of added sugars, and 6.8% of sodium. Toddlers consumed snack foods on average 1.4 times/day contributing 8.9% of total daily energy, 40.0% of added sugars, and 7.2% of sodium. In adjusted models including all children, greater frequency of sweet and salty snack food intake, but not commercial baby snack foods, was associated with higher weight-for-length z scores.

Conclusions: Snack foods are frequently consumed by infants and toddlers and contribute to the intake of overconsumed nutrients such as added sugars and sodium. Given the current guidelines to avoid added sugars and higher sodium before age 2 years, additional recommendations related to nutrient-dense snack intake may be beneficial.

Keywords: Dietary intake; Infants; Overconsumed nutrients; Snack foods; Toddlers; Weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake*
  • Humans
  • Nutrients
  • Snacks*
  • Sodium
  • Sugars


  • Sugars
  • Sodium