Making snack food choices

Sep 11, 2008

People who are asked whether they would choose between a "good" snack and a "bad" snack might not follow their intentions when the snacks arrive. In an article in the September/October 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Dutch researchers found that there is a substantial inconsistency between healthful snack choice intentions and actual behavior.

Participants were asked about their intentions in choosing among four snacks: an apple, a banana, a candy bar and a molasses waffle. About half of the participants indicated they would choose the apple or banana—a "healthy" snack.

But when presented, one week later, with the actual snacks, 27% switched to the candy bar or waffle. Over 90% of the unhealthy-choice participants stuck with their intentions and chose the unhealthy snack. The study included 585 participants who were office employees recruited in their worksite cafeterias.

Although intentions are often tightly linked to what people really do, it doesn't always work that way. One explanation is that intentions are usually under cognitive control while actual choices are often made impulsively, even unconsciously.

At times, the link between intentions and behavior is stronger. In healthy eating behavior, a strong positive attitude toward healthy eating, a high level of dietary restraint and regular consumption of healthy foods could increase the healthy intention-behavior consistency.

Investigator Pascalle Weijzen, Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, comments that "a substantial gap between healthy snack choice intentions and actual behavior was demonstrated. Despite that gap, the results suggest that individuals who plan to make a healthful choice are more likely to do so than those who plan to make unhealthful choices. Because more than 50% of the population seems to have no intention at all of making a healthful choice, identifying tools by which this group can be motivated to choose a healthful snack is strongly needed."

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: Terrorist attacks decrease fertility levels, says new research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Running really can keep you young, study says

2 hours ago

If you are an active senior who wants to stay younger, keep on running. A new study involving the University of Colorado Boulder and Humboldt State University shows that senior citizens who run several times ...

The American athletics track is still a man's world

3 hours ago

The limited coverage that American female athletes get in the media is one of many subtle forms of gender biases they have to cope with. The little exposure they do get often focuses more on their attire, or how attractive, ...

How do teenage boys perceive their weight?

5 hours ago

Almost one third of male adolescents inaccurately perceive their weight. This can influence their eating habits and, consequently, their health, according to a study led by the UAB and conducted with 600 teenage boys from ...

Cold front sparks dangerous use of space heaters

5 hours ago

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.