Sport and Snacks: Children’s Habits in Italy

Italian children and teenagers have the correct habit of having an afternoon snack: 99%, in fact, indulge in an afternoon snack, frequently alternating between sweet and savory.

At the same time, however, only 6 out of 10 young people (under 13) regularly practice physical activity. Central regions in Italy are at the top of the ranking, with 77% of young practitioners ahead of Northern Italy (60%). In South Italy, however, only 1 in 2 children does sports.

This is what emerges from the Doxa Junior 2019, the research that analyzed, among other topics, the snack of Italian children and young people (5-13 years). The study evaluated, on one hand, any differences in terms of approach, amount and types of food, among children who practice and do not practice sport. On the other hand, the study focused on the relationship between young Italians under 13 and sport, to provide a picture about the relationship between children and sport in Italy.

The study was presented on Wednesday 25 November during the event “Youth and sport: what snack?” organized by Unione Italiana Food and SISA, Italian Society of Food Sciences, to present the new information campaign on the website aimed at reiterating the importance of snacking and sporting activities for children and teenagers aged 5 to 13 years.

CHILDREN WHO PRACTICE SPORT ALTERNATE SWEET AND SALTY SNACKS –  Children and teenagers aged between 5 and 13 who practice physical activity always have (99%) snacks and alternate a salty snack with a sweet one a little more often than children who do not practice sport. Among the favorite sweet foods as a snack, in the afternoon, there are packaged snacks (26%), the classic bread and jam or with hazelnut cream (23%), fresh fruit or fruit salad (17%) and plain biscuits (15%). Among the savory ones, however, we find bread with cold cuts or cheeses (15%), pizzetta (14%), crackers, schiacciatina or breadsticks (12%) and focaccia (10%). The afternoon snack is mainly done at home – a habit of 7 out of 10 children and teenagers – while 16% eat it outside (but not at school), 6% eat it at school and, finally, 5% do not have a snack the afternoon.

CHILDREN WHO PRACTICE AND DO NOT PRACTICE SPORTS EAT SIMILAR SNACKS – In general, the study showed that there are no particular differences between the snack of children who play sports compared to that of children who do not. This sheds light on the fact that the difference in the state of health, body weight and well-being of the younger generations is not determined in particular by what they eat as a snack, but mainly by sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity.

6 OUT OF 10 YOUNG ADULTS PRACTICE SPORT, MORE SO IN CENTRAL ITALY – If we focus on the section dedicated to the sporting activity of children and young people, it becomes clear that today 6 out of 10 young people play sports in Italy, equal to about 3 million children and young people aged 5 to 13. The research shows that Central Italy is the most virtuous area in terms of movement and physical activity: in this area, 77% of children and young people play sports, more so than in the North where it stops at 60%. Unfortunately, the situation changes in the South and in the Islands. Here, 1 in 2 boys does not play sports (50% against 40% of the national average). In addition, in this geographical area, there is also the highest rate of childhood obesity.



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