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Snacking for Kids

Snacking In Teenagers

Snacking for Kids


Sugary snacks increase frequency of sugary intake thereby increasing chances of getting tooth decay (dental caries) and obesity.

What healthy snacks should you stock up?

If your child needs to snack, choose the one with low sugar content and non sticky from the snack cabinet.

Recommended safe snacks

Thirst-quenching :

  • Drink plain water
  • Unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices
  • Low or non-fat milk

Fruits and nuts :

  • Fruits e.g. guava, honey dew and water melon
  • Raw vegetables e.g. carrot, cucumber and sweet corn
  • Nuts and pulses e.g. boiled kacang kuda

Filling foods :

  • Tuna or egg sandwich, unsweetened biscuit or bread, cereals, chapati plain crisps and boiled egg

Are chocolates and sweets bad?

Your child can enjoy chocolates and sweets without harming his teeth by taking them during meal times, followed with brushing afterwards.

What can you do to prevent the risks of snacking?

The risks of snacking can be prevented if one :

  • Limit the amount and frequency of snacking on sugary and sticky foods or drinks.These include lollies and toffees, potato crisps, honey and jam, sugary cereal, dried fruit, chocolate,cake, biscuits, Soft drinks cordial and juices
  • Read food labels when shopping for groceries. Be aware that honey, corn syrup, glucose and molasses are all sugars.
  • Practice proper tooth brushing or rinsing after every snack.
  • Have regular dental check-ups.


Last reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Che Noor Aini bt. Che Omar
    Dr. Azillah bt. Mohd Ali
Reviewer : Dr. Laila bt. Abd Jalil


Snacking In Teenagers


  • Diet and lifestyle have a huge impact on health including oral health.
  • Nutrition is vital for human growth, development and health maintenance.
  • Generally, a well-balanced diet is represented by the food guide pyramid.
  • Some modifications are needed depending on age, gender, body size and type of lifestyle.
  • A balanced diet will lead to healthy teeth and gums

What’s special about teenagers?

In terms of nutrition, they are special because:

  1. They are undergoing a growth spurt therefore needing specific nutrition and energy requirement
  2. Prone to peer pressure and wants to seek acceptance
  3. Busy lifestyle causing skipping of meals
  4. Food pattern changes due to independence in choosing their meal
  5. Tendency for convenient food, for instance fast food and soft drink
  6. Skipping main meals to lose weight to achieve certain social expectation
  7. Social snacking when hanging out with friends
  8. Diet patterns established during adolescence often persist into adulthood


Snacking and health

  • Snack is defined as a small portion of food or drink taken in between main meals.
  • Snacks or light meals help to keep individuals energized throughout the day. It’s beneficial in some groups of people, for instance in young children who have small stomachs that can’t take all the food they need during main meals.
  • However, frequent snacking of food high in refined carbohydrates, added sugar and fat can be harmful.
  • Frequent snacking has been linked to rising rates of overweight and obese adults.

What do experts say about diet?

  • According to WHO, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancers, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes are the leading causes of death. The risk factors include tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol and unhealthy diets. 1.7 million deaths are attributed to low fruits and vegetable consumption1.
  • WHO recommends an intake of 400g of fruits and vegetables per person, per day to help prevent chronic disease and some cancers2.
  • It is recommended to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to be healthy but individual needs vary.
  • Rising soft drink intake has been said to cause obesity, diabetes, caries, erosion of teeth as well as displaces other beverages such as plain water and milk

How does snacking influence teeth and health?

  • Frequency of snacking on food with high sugar content is related to occurrence of caries
  • Plaque in the mouth, when combined with sugar will produce acid that will cause teeth to have cavities.
  • Soft drinks are recognised as a major source of added sugar which increases risk of caries. They also commonly contain phosphoric acid and citric acid which causes erosion.
  • Sticky food will stay longer in the mouth
  • Carbonated drinks and energy drinks may lead to erosion and caries because of the high sugar and low pH content.
  • Widespread caries can lead to pain and infection. This will influence quality of life.


General tips on healthy snacking

  • Most importantly, is to take everything in moderation and according to individual need.
  • Read and understand labels when buying food. Different words are used to describe sugar, examples include sucrose, glucose,fructose, maltose, honey etc.
  • Avoid frequent consumption of sugar-rich and fat-laden snacks.
  • Choose to have healthy snacks such as vegetables, fruits and nuts
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of plain water.
  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Having good main meals will lead to less number of snacking


Diet modifications to help achieve good oral health

  • Have sugary food with main meals rather than as snacks
  • Sugar-free chewing gums will help increase salivation therefore help in reducing risk of caries
  • Drinking sugary drinks and carbonated drinks with straws will bypass it from reaching teeth
  • Stop habit of swishing carbonated drinks in the mouth to help prevent erosion
  • Plain water and milk is the best beverage as snacks in between meal.
  • Fruit-fused-water and smoothies have high acidity therefore not suggested for frequent sipping
  • Rinsing with water after snacking helps protect teeth,
  • Do not brush teeth right after having acidic drinks
  • Avoid sticky food like toffee, jellies, raisins and dried fruits.
  • Foods suggested as healthy snacks include cheese, yogurt, nuts, vegetables, fruits, milk and plain water.

Don’t forget to have regular dental check-ups with dentists!


  1. World Health Organization, Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2010 (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011).
  2. WHO/FAO (2003) Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic disease. Technical Report Series 916.


Last Reviewed : 14 November 2014
Writer : Dr. Suriani bt. Sukeri
Accreditor : Dr. Noraini @ Nun Nahar bt. Yunus