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Women, children largest consumers of unhealthy snacks: Study

December 05, 2007 13:35 IST

The consumption of unhealthy snacks like pakoras, noodles and chips is at its peak in the pre-dinner period and women and children are the largest consumers of such food, a new study has shown.

According to the pan-India study 'Understanding snacking amongst women and kids', Kolkata has the highest incidence of snacking in the pre-dinner period which is as high as 92 per cent.

While Bangalore was a close second with 95 per cent women and 88 per cent children snacking in the pre-dinner period, 5-7 pm to be precise, 89 per cent women and 88 per cent children in Delhi consume such unhealthy food, the study by A C Neilson said.

As the day progresses to mid-morning, tea-time, pre-dinner and post-dinner periods, snacking gains momentum and reaches a peak in the pre-dinner period.

This pre-dinner period sees the highest incidence of non-healthy food consumption. A wide variety of unhealthy snacks get consumed across the cities in this segment of the day. This includes chips, noodles, pakoras, chaat etc.

In this specific pre-dinner moment, nearly 81 per cent of consumers in Delhi confess to consuming items comprising mostly of unhealthy snacks.

A total of 1,000 respondents -- 200 each from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata -- were surveyed for the study.

It covered working women, homemakers, mothers in the age group of 28-40 years, and children in the age group of 5-12 years belonging to middle and upper income households.

According to Dr Karuna from the Indraprastha Apollo hospitals, Delhi, "Pre-dinner snacking is the result of fast paced life-styles. However, if we make small changes to our eating habits and include easy-to-prepare healthy snacks like fruit chaats, soups and milk shakes, then the evening snack can go a long way in moving towards a healthy eating pattern."

Another issue is that working mothers in their eagerness to ensure that their children do not go hungry and eat something end up giving their children quick snacks such as biscuits, chips and instant noodles due to lack of time.

"This survey reinstates the fact that people tend to let go during the evening snacking moment. Reasons could be longer working hours, longer travel time or sometimes just the convenience factor," Niti Desai, a leading nutritionist from Mumbai said.

As a result of this, more and more young people nowadays are ending up with high cholesterol as they consume fast food which is laden with trans fats and saturated fats.

The consumption of vegetables and fruits has also come down and since there is very little fibre in the diet, the cholesterol stays in the diet without being eliminated.

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