Snacking in America – Good Habit or Bad?

HealthGal Health Guide
  • We all know by now that there is an ongoing obesity crisis in the United States today.  Many kids and adults weigh more than they should, and the trend appears to be persisting.  It’s also obvious that the type of food most of us choose throughout the day is typically high in calories, fat, sugar, sodium and many of us have an ongoing love affair with carbohydrates – and not the good ones.  Common sense suggests that we already do enough eating during our meals, so snacking would be a road to adding more unnecessary calories to an overburdened diet, right?  According to a new journal study, snacking may actually be connected to healthier eating patterns.

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    The report, Snacking in America, found that consumers who regularly snacked were more likely to be eating a healthier diet.  In fact, the individuals who ate a healthy, balanced diet were more likely to snack twice as often, as those eating less healthy diets.  According to an interview by a Food Navigator reporter with one of the report's lead authors, “Concerns about health is a leading reason for increased snacking.”  The report looked different times of the day and the snacking behavior, and how it appears to be changing.  Specifically, the report authors looked at morning, afternoon and evening snacking, the night snacking being identified as the least health-driven opportunity.  Most snacking at night is extra calories with little nutritious value, often involving chips, cookies or ice cream.  The report seems to indicate that the evening snacking habit appears to be declining, while morning snacking appears to be increasing, and it invariably involves healthier choices like yogurt, nuts, seeds, and fruit.  Nutrition bars of varying calorie amounts are also popular with these active, healthier snackers and these specific snackers do a lot of label reading. 


    Another change appears to be the “impulse snack purchase.”  These healthier snackers are not buying chips, candy bars and other quick grab items located close to the checkout counter.  Most are thinking about the purchase ahead of time, or they're grabbing available snacks that are already in the home pantry or refrigerator.  The report also seemed to point to breakfast and the breakfast snack as the two eating experiences of the day most driven by health concerns.  Still salt reigns supreme, with salty snacks the number one choice at home and away from home.  That would make crackers and pretzels the king and queen of salty snack purchases.


    The report did suggest an encouraging trend – that more meals and snacks are being consumed in the home.  Though teens are the top group of snackers, the next group comprised of fifty year olds, are making snack choices with health as a guiding principle.  Are any manufacturers paying attention?  According to the author of the report, they should!!


    (Some information sourced from    

Published On: November 20, 2012