UK – Marketing food as a “snack” leads to increased consumption and continued overeating, according to a study by Professor Jane Ogden and her researchers from the University of Surrey, who examined the impact of labelling food products as “snacks” or “meals.”

According to NutritionInsight, the researchers found that those who had eaten pasta labelled as a “snack” ate more at the taste test then when it had been labelled as a ‘meal.’

The researchers also found that those who ate the ‘snack’ standing up consumed more (50% more total mass, sweet mass and total calories and 100% more M&M’s) than those who had eaten the pasta sitting down at a table.

This unique set of results demonstrated that when a food is labelled as a snack rather, than a ‘meal’ consumption is higher, particularly when standing rather than sitting.

During this study, eighty participants were also asked to eat a pasta pot, which was either labelled as a “snack” or a “meal.”

Each pot was presented as a “snack” (eaten standing up from a plastic pot with a plastic fork) or a ‘meal’ (seated at a table from a ceramic plate and metal fork).

Once consumed, participants were invited to take part in an additional taste test of different foods (animal biscuits, hula hoops, M&M’s and mini cheddars.)

Researchers have attributed this to a combination of factors and believe that when eating a snack, we are more easily distracted and may not be conscious of consumption.

They also added that memories for snacks and meals may be encoded differently in our subconscious and that we are unable to recall what we have eaten as a “snack.”

As a growing problem in the UK, obesity has been reported with its levels trebling in the last 30 years with 24.9% of people now deemed obese, the highest levels in Europe.