Nutritional assessment for primary school children in Tehran: an evaluation of dietary pattern with emphasis on snacks and meals consumption

Maryam Amini, Monireh Dadkhah-Piraghag, Mitra Abtahi, Morteza Abdollahi, Anahita Houshiarrad, Masoud Kimiagar


Background: In order to provide better advice for prevention of obesity and eating disorders among children, there is a need to have more knowledge of their dietary patterns. This study examined meal and snacking patterns of primary school children in Tehran.

Methods: A total of 761 male and female primary school children from all educational areas in Tehran were recruited in a cross‑sectional survey. The data was collected by interviewing the students and their mothers or caregivers. Information on food consumption patterns was collected by one 24‑h‑recall and one snack‑oriented food frequency questionnaire which covered a period of 1 month. Means, standard deviations, frequencies, percentages, energy and nutrient analyzes and nutrient densities were reported.

Results: All of the students snacked at least once on the day of the survey. Snacks provided 38% of total energy intake by the students. Fruits and sweet snacks were consumed by almost all of the students during a week. Energy and most nutrient intakes from meals were greater than those consumed from snacks. Snacks had a higher density of fiber, carbohydrate, calcium, iron, vitamin C, riboflavin and thiamin and had a lower density of protein, fat and niacin, compared with main meals. Salty snacks such as extruded cheese curls (Cheetos) and chips were not consumed so often.

Conclusions: Results provide detailed information about dietary patterns, which in turn enable development of targeted messages and/or interventions to improve nutritional status of school children.

Keywords: Children, nutritional value, primary school, snacking pattern

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