Background: There are limited data on snacking behaviour of Australian adults.
Methods: Weekday data from the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey were used. Eating occasion (EO) was defined as any food or beverage consumed at a unique time. A snacking occasion (SO) was defined as an EO during a 'between main meal' time period. Daily number of EO, SO, items consumed, %en contribution of SO and discretionary energy intake were determined and multiple linear regression was used to adjust for confounders.
Results: Adults consumed on average 7 EO and 2 SO per day. Adults consumed 4 items per day from all SO compared to 14 items from all main meals. 88% of adults had at least 1 SO/day. The most popular SO was the morning (69%) and provided an average of 12.6% of total energy intake. Higher SO/day was associated with greater total energy intake, similar BMI and waist circumference compared to lower SO/day. SO contributed 22% of total energy and between 16%-32% of total nutrient intake. All SO combined contributed 29% of total discretionary energy intake, whereas the evening main meal contributed 44%. The top three food groups that contributed the most energy during SO were; cakes, muffins, scones, cake-type desserts; regular breads, and bread rolls; and dairy milk.
Conclusion: Snacking behaviour was prominent among adults but contributed less than a quarter of total energy intake. The evening main meal contributed the most discretionary energy and needs further investigation.
Funding source: Grant from Nestlé Australia Ltd.