School snacking preferences of children from a low socio-economic status community in South Africa
There is a growing concern about energy dense snacking preferences in developing countries and its impact on the prevalence of lifestyle diseases. Identifying snacking trends among children from low socio-economic communities, is potentially of great importance in developing interventions towards promoting healthy eating habits at an early age. The aim of this study was to determine the snacking preferences among primary school-going children from a low socio-economic status community in South Africa. The study was set in a peri-urban area in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Ten parents were involved in the focus group discussion to identify snacking preferences of their children. The purchasing pattern of five hundred and thirty-six children was observed at a school tuck shop. Thereafter, two hundred children in grades 4–7 completed a Snack Food Frequency Questionnaire. The focus group discussion revealed that most children carried a packed lunch to school, which was supplemented with money to purchase items from school. The focus group discussion identified chips as being a popular snack eaten at home. The tuck shop purchases showed that sweets (39%) and chips (34%) were the most popular snacks purchased from the tuck shop. This was further confirmed from the results of the Snack Food Frequency Questionnaire. It was evident that snacks most commonly purchased were inexpensive and energy dense, enabling quick satiety. Research directed towards the exploration of snacking practices may assist in developing strategies to improve the availability and quality of snacks consumed.