Some of the science behind our snacking habit

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The industry has certainly motivated to capitalise on this behaviour, pumping almost $14 billion annually on advertising in the US,​ according to the Uconn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity analysis of Nielsen data. More than 80% of this advertising promotes sugar and fat-laden snacks, fast food, sugary drinks and candy, dwarfing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s entire $1 billion budget for all chronic disease prevention and health promotion in 2017.

Why do we snack?

Research has found various motivations behind snacking; the most common reasons to answer a growling stomach between meals or for an energy boost to get through the day. Other reasons snackers reach for something comforting is to fulfil a craving, relive a tasty moment, overcome boredom, to find solace and get through an emotional event.

Snacking can also be influenced by social culture, food culture and socioeconomic status. For example, in Mexico, snacks are usually foods that children could consume by themselves and were convenient and easy to prepare. The French have an eating occasion called goûter​ between lunch and dinner; similarly, in the Philippines (merienda) ​and Mexico (almuerzo).

In food-insecure populations, snacking is adopted as a strategy to feed individuals who have limited or uncertain access at all times to enough food for an active, healthful life.

The 2020 Food & Health Survey​ from the International Food Information Council revealed several insights into how Americans snack.

About a quarter of Americans said they snacked several times throughout the day, with one-third divulging in at least one snack daily. 40% said they occasionally replaced meals by snacking – lunch being the meal that tended to be swapped out – and 25% conceded to skipping meals entirely.

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