Snack food and beverage consumption and young child nutrition in low‐ and middle‐income countries: A systematic review

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This article was published in the Maternal & Child Nutrition Supplement: Marketing and Consumption of Commercial Foods Fed to Young Children in Low and Middle‐income Countries.

Abstract: Although snacks can provide important nutrients for young children during the complementary feeding period, the increasing availability of snack foods and sugar‐sweetened beverages (SSB), often energy‐dense and nutrient‐poor, in low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMIC) is a concern. Such foods may displace consumption of nutritious foods in contexts where diets are often nutritionally inadequate and the burden of childhood malnutrition is high. This systematic review summarizes literature on the contribution of snack food/SSB consumption to total energy intakes (TEI) of children below 23 months of age in LMIC and associations between this consumption and nutritional outcomes. It also identifies areas where further research is needed. A systematic search of Embase, Global Health, and MEDLINE for literature published in January 1990–July 2018 was conducted. This search yielded 8,299 studies, 13 of which met inclusion criteria: Nine studies assessed % TEI from snack foods/SSB, and four studies assessed associations between snack food/SSB consumption and nutritional outcomes. Average % TEI from snack foods/SSB ranged from 13% to 38%. Findings regarding associations with growth were inconclusive, and no studies assessed associations with nutrient intakes. Variation in measurement of consumption and definitions of snack foods and SSB limited study comparisons. Further research is needed to understand how consumption of energy‐dense, nutrient‐poor snack foods and SSB influences undernutrition and overnutrition among young children during the complementary feeding period in settings that are experiencing dietary transitions and the double burden of malnutrition.

Authors: Alissa M. Pries, Suzanne Filteau & Elaine L. Ferguson

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