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    Fruit Is Kids' Favorite Snack

    The NPD Group lists top snack foods in the country.

    While the spotlight continues to shine on the nation's child obesity problem, a new study reveals kids eat fresh fruit more often than any other snack-oriented food.

    Fruit is the top snack food consumed by boys and girls between ages two and 12, according to The NPD Group's SnackTrack, which looks at snack food consumption habits for kids and adults. The firm also tracks the situations when snack foods are consumed to give a complete picture of Americans' snacking habits.

    "While chips, cookies and candy are among the most popular snack foods, it's surprising to see the No. 1 category of snacks consumed by children is fresh fruit," said Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group. "As people age, fruit drops down a little on the list, but it still remains one of the most popular snacks at any age. Later in life, fresh fruit will become the most popular again.

    The top five snack foods for boys aged two to seven are fresh fruit, yogurt, potato chips, chocolate candy, and cookies. The favorite snacks of young girls are fresh fruit, yogurt, gum, potato chips and chocolate candy.

    Older boys aged eight to 12 favor fresh fruit, potato chips, gum, ice cream and chocolate candy. The older girls choose fresh fruit, gum, potato chips, ice cream and chocolate candy, in that order.

    Snacking has always been a more important part of a child's diet than an adult's diet, according to The NPD Group. Children under 18 years of age consume snack foods 23 percent more often than adults. The average child eats snack foods about 530 times per year, compared to the average adult who only eats them about 430 times per year.

    "While we may not eat as much fruit as we should in this country, it's noteworthy that fresh fruit remains one of the top snack foods in the American diet," said Balzer. "As we age, the importance of fruit drops as convenient snacks take hold."

    Chewing gum tops the list as the No. 1 snack food among adults aged 18 to 54. SnackTrack found gum is ubiquitous among men and women snackers. Still, age is a factor in the gum-chewing habits of Americans. It begins to show up as a popular snack among kids under 13, but doesn't rank as No. 1 until the teenage years.

    "People are just walking around waiting for this snack to happen, they don't necessarily have to think about buying a pack of gum because it can fit anywhere and can last for a while," Balzer said. “How long will a banana last in your purse or briefcase?"

    The top six snacks for adults aged 19 to 54 are gum, chocolate candy, fresh fruit, potato chips, breath/candy mints, and ice cream. Rounding out the top 10 for men are nuts, cookies, tortilla chips and bars. For women, those final four snacks in the top 10 are cookies, nuts, yogurt and crackers.

    "Keep an eye on nuts ... a very popular food among older Americans," said Balzer. NPD's data shows that 28 percent of men and 24 percent of women over 65 eat nuts at least once a week compared to 13 percent of adults under 65.

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