The New York Times January 19, 2010 For the complete article:
The spread of snacking has been abetted by parental guilt, the much-lamented death of the family dinner, and over-scheduled children. Kara Nielsen, a “trendologist” at the Center for Culinary Development, a brand development company in San Francisco, cites the proliferation of activities, from soccer to chess club to tutoring sessions, that now fill children’s afternoons.
“You’ve got this desire for parents to control their kid’s diet,” Ms. Nielsen added, “and add this with this increase in activities, so it has become up to the parents to provide the snacks. And the marketers have picked up on this.”
Indeed, this nation consumed $68.1 billion in packaged snack foods in 2008, up from $60 billion in 2004, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research group. One of the newest concepts — and among the best sellers, Ms. Nielsen said — are 100-calorie packs of cookies and other junk foods. They are targeted at parents, who are always looking for something to toss into the backpack for after-school time.
Fast-food restaurants are in on the act, and over the last two years have begun to introduce their own mini-meals, like the McDonald’s Snack Wrap. According to the Agriculture Department, American children get 40 percent of their calories from food of poor nutritional quality.