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Added sugars, Saturated fatty acids, Snack foods, Children, Eating practice
Background. Consumption of foods rich in added sugars and saturated fatty acids by children is believed to be positively associated with weight gain and obesity. Purpose: this study was undertaken to compare contents of added sugars and saturated fatty acids and assess suitability of total energy intake from these nutrients in 30g of selected snack foods for young children from 4 to 13 years old. Methods: the amounts of total carbohydrate, added sugars, total fat and saturated fatty acids in grams displayed in nutrition information panels were recorded from 71 snack foods. These products comprise a selection of ready-to-eat cereals, chocolate confectionery and biscuits sold in supermarket outlets in Muscat, Oman. Nutrients were assessed using the guidelines of the WHO recommended daily intakes of energy from added sugars (< 5%) and saturated fatty acids (< 10%). Results: in 100g, the mean value of added sugars in biscuits (26.4g±9.4) was significantly lower than in chocolate confectionery (52.2g±6.2). Meanwhile, the mean values of total fat and saturated fatty acids were significantly high in chocolate confectionery (28g±10.3; 14.9g±4.1) and biscuits (22.8g±6; 14.4g±7.2) than in ready-to-eat cereals (2.8g±1.5; 0.83g±0.6). The results also showed that intake of 30g of ready-to-eat cereals and chocolate confectionery provides significantly high amounts of added sugars than saturated fatty acids for young children and suggest that 15g portion size is a better option. Conclusion: for some snack foods such as chocolate confectionery added sugar content is inappropriate for young children, hence strict eating practice should be followed.