Thursday, September 05, 2019

Snacking in the Evening

Most Americans are late evening snackers, according to the USDA Food Surveys Research Group, which defines late evening as 8 pm to midnight. On an average day, 64 percent of people aged 20 or older "consumed one or more foods or beverages other than plain water in the late evening." So what, you say? The USDA is interested in this behavior because of its "potential negative implications for health."

The prevalence of late evening snacking is greatest among young adults. Fully 68 percent of people aged 20 to 39 consume something more than just plain water between 8 and 11:59 pm on an average day. Among 40-to-59-year-olds, 65 percent snack in the late evening. Among people aged 60 or older, the figure is 59 percent.

Now for the potential negative implications: Late evening snacking is not calorie free. On average, the food and drinks consumed in the late evening add up to 16 percent of the daily calories of snackers. Perhaps consequently, late evening snackers consume more calories on an average day than those who do not snack in the evening—2,243 calories per day for snackers and 1,906 calories for nonsnackers.

The snackers are veritable vacuum cleaners in the kitchen. The foods and beverages being consumed by late night snackers include sweet bakery products (17 percent of late night snackers), candy (10 percent), sandwiches (9 percent), poultry (5 percent), white potatoes (6 percent), fruit (11 percent) cheese and yogurt (5 percent), regular soft drinks (9 percent), diet soft drinks (4 percent), tea (8 percent), milk (6 percent), coffee (4 percent), and alcoholic beverages (14 percent). Among those who report drinking alcohol between 8 and midnight, nearly half of the alcohol they drink all day is consumed during those hours.

Source: USDA, Food Surveys Research Group, Late Evening Food and Beverage Consumption by Adults in the U.S.

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