Oh Baby: Snack attacks have attacked our waistlines - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Snack attacks have attacked our waistlines

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- When you look at a sandwich, what do you see? Some people see a meal. Others see a mid-day snack.

As more kids of all ages increase munching in between meals, it's becoming harder for snackers to know when to stop.  That has nutrition experts concerned.

Dominic Vito's days are jam packed.

"I work seven days a week and I'm going to school full time, as well."

In between work and class, he's no stranger to snack attacks.

"I snack just about every day, whether it's in place of a meal or in between meals."

Vito isn't the only one noshing in-between meals.

Registered dietitian Melissa Zied says daily snacking is on the rise, as busy Americans grow short on time, and need to grab-on-the-go.

"In the 70s, about 71% of adults snacked every day. But now, it's about 97%. And among children, about 98%," she said.

Dietitians like Zied have long touted the benefits of munching in-between meals. The problem? from small or snack-size entrees and desserts, to popular side dishes, the line between a snack and a meal is now becoming increasingly blurry.

"Even if it's a small sandwich, they're considering that a snack. And they're eating 24/7. And that's really because all this enticing, high fat, high calorie fare is increasingly available."

...And often at low prices.

At fast foods restaurants across the country, dollar menu deals and steals are among the most popular snack items. Take these snack wraps from McDonald's and Popeye's. Each one contains around 400 calories and more than 15 grams of fat.

"If something has three or four hundred calories, that's getting into meal territory," Zied said.

Other popular fast food fare includes pies, fries and popcorn shrimp.

Vito snacks on the McDonald's honey barbecue snack wrap three to four times a week, even though he knows the nutrition stats.

"I can eat it on the go. The fat and calorie content really doesn't concern me," he said.

High-calorie mini-foods are also found at the grocery store.

"These things are billed as snack foods, but really, a lot of them don't really come from the basic healthy food groups," Zied said.

McDonald's, Burger King and KFC say their menus include a variety of different portion and calorie choices, and that they provide nutrition information so customers can make informed decisions.

Popeye's says they believe their menu should be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle.

"Check out the calorie information on the menu boards. Check out their websites," Zied said.

Zied says there is no true definition for "snack", but she considers it to be something that contains 100-200 calories and comes from the basic food groups.

Options can be found at the grocery store and at many fast food restaurants.

After Vito's schedule slows down, he plans to slow down with the snack wraps.

"I definitely prefer to cook my own meals and know what I'm putting into my body," he said.

If you like to piece together "snack size" foods for a meal, Zied says you still need to pay attention to portion size.

Pick two or three items that add up to no more than 500 or 600 calories.

Restaurants like McDonald's offer apple slices and other healthy choices for kids

Online Anchor: Sunny Layne

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