Entries in Snacking (3)


How Colored Potato Chips Slow Snacking

Robyn Wishna/Cornell Food and Brand Lab(NEW YORK) -- Once you pop open a stack of potato chips, it can sometimes be hard to stop until you suddenly realize you are scraping the bottom of the can.  Now, new research suggests that inserting colored potato chips might actually help curb your appetite -- and the findings could have implications for other snacks, too.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University gave students one of two types of Lays' Stackable potato chips.  The first group was given a stack of chips with red dyed, edible potato chips that were interspersed at several different intervals, suggesting serving sizes anywhere from five to 14 chips.  The other group was given the traditional stack of potato chips with no edible dividers.

What the researchers found was that inserting colored potato chips at regular intervals in the stacks caused people to eat fewer chips overall.  In fact, the group with the edible serving size dividers reduced their potato chip consumption by 50 percent.  The results appear in the May issue of the Journal of Health Psychology.

"The colored chip did all the work," says Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the study.  "This study showed that segmenting foods gets people to eat less."

"People tend to eat what you put in front of them.  If you put less in front of them and give them a signal, they will take it," he says.

Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State and author of the Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, had similar observations.  In a separate study, she and her colleagues found that giving men and women bigger bags of potato chips caused them to eat more.  This increase in snack consumption, interestingly, did not translate into the participants eating less at dinner time.

So, is portion control the answer to why over one-third of Americans are obese today?

The answer may just be that simple.  Rozin compared the American and French diet with some interesting findings.  The French, he found, tend to eat smaller portions.

"Even the portions at McDonald's and the pizza parlors are smaller in France compared to America," Rozin says.  "The idea in France is not eating as much as you can but eating as much good food as you can."

Rozin and his colleagues also found that the French tend to eat more slowly than Americans and savor each bite.  In the United States, food is more on the run, and people do not realize how much they are actually consuming.

Interestingly, the French eat higher fat diets than Americans but they have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and higher life expectancy.  Rozin explains that this is called the "French paradox."  The French do not go to the gym as much as Americans but they are overall more active and control their portion sizes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Snacking Is the Real American Pastime

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans love their snacks so much so that about half of them enjoy them outside their regular meals at least twice a day.

That’s according to a survey conducted by market research firms Technomic, Packaged Facts and SymphonyIRI.

As for where Americans like to have their snacks, 70 percent of consumers prefer munching goodies at home, but there are signs that more people are sneaking snacks at work.

Mid-afternoon snacking seems to be most popular with 75 percent of Americans, while four in 10 admit they also like their favorite treats during the morning, evening and late night.

The highest-grossing snacks last year might surprise you: trail mix and hummus, with sales up 11.1 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.

Snacks apparently don’t necessarily have to be food, according to the survey: three in 10 snacks consumed in 2011 were beverages.

Fifty percent of consumers say they eat snacks to provide them with an energy boost, while two-thirds of women are also careful not to eat portions that they consider too large.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tasty Food Fuels Run for Second Helping

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People who fill up on tasty treats are more likely to return for seconds than those who eat food that’s boring and bland, a new study found.

That may sound obvious, but Italian researchers used cookies, cakes and tiramisu to find out why the food we love keeps us coming back for more. The reason: a bit like addictive substances, the taste activates reward signals in the brain.

“Our preliminary findings show that when a normal-weight healthy subject’s motivation to eat is generated by the availability of highly palatable food and not by food deprivation, a peripheral activation of two endogenous rewarding chemical signals is observed,” the researchers wrote in a study set to be presented at the 94th annual Endocrine Society meeting in Houston.

The researchers tracked plasma levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and the marijuana-like brain chemical 2-AG in study subjects who dined on delicious or, well, disappointing meals. Those who ate from the “palatable” plate had higher levels of both.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said the study corroborates what most people already knew: tasty food makes it hard to stop eating.

“We know that people overeat candy bars but not cauliflower; jelly beans but not pinto beans,” he said. “We know that people still have room for dessert at the end of a large meal when they’re otherwise too full for another bite.”

The famous slogan, “Betcha can’t eat just one,” Katz said, is true.

More than one-third of American adults are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The major culprit: an imbalance between calories consumed through food and spent through exercise.

“Food should be a source of pleasure, but there should be sensible rules to bound that pleasure, or you are apt to get in trouble,” said Katz. “Many things that are pleasurable are dangerous. Food is no exception.”

Katz said to steer clear of tempting fare if you’re already full.

“By all means, love food that loves you back. But don’t go out of your way to expose yourself to the most tempting foods when you have already filled your belly,” he said. “That’s a formula for over-indulgence.”

Dr. Stephen Cook, a pediatrician at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said the study offers some important food for thought on the development of food preferences.

“It’s significant because the basic science data is showing that pleasure centers of the brain that get activated by tobacco, drugs or other addictions are getting activated by foods,” he said. “As a pediatrician, I think it allows us to provide more carefully worded advice about not introducing solid food and sweetened beverages too early in life.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio