Many Americans Choosing Snacks Over Meals

Published in CSP Daily News

And most seek appeal to senses over health

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Nearly half of Americans (40%) would prefer to reach for snack foods throughout the day instead of eating the traditional three square meals, revealed a recent survey by Snack Factory's Pretzel Crisps brand. Many admit to indulging in snack foods for lunch (78%) and even dinner (55%).

While snacking may be a habit of both men and women of all ages, younger generations tend to skip the full course meal and go right to the snack aisle when they are hungry. In fact, close to half (46%) of 18-to-49-year-olds make snacking a major part of their day as compared to only 31% of their 50-and-older counterparts.

Despite the generational gap, more people of all ages are relying on snacks to get them through the day. Whether it's sweet, salty, crunchy or full of flavor, snack foods have become a staple in the American diet.

Pretzel Crisps' new Rethink Your Snack Survey, conducted by Kelton Research, found that when it comes to snack time, a majority of Americans (59%) prefer to keep it interesting and sample a variety of treats; however, in the debate between snacks that taste good and snacks that are healthy, America's taste buds are guiding their decisions.

More than two thirds of the nation (63%) would rather eat a snack that appeals to their senses than their waistlines and nearly the same amount (60%) confess to consuming more than the recommended portion. The good news is that there are plenty of better-for-you snacks that offer a selection of satisfying flavors without the guilt or the added weight.

Almost nine in 10 (86%) Americans take the health content of their snack foods into consideration. When selecting small bites, calories (55%) and fat (48%) are the top two pieces of nutritional information Americans look for, while carbohydrates (31%) are far less important. For those seeking a healthier snack food, nearly three in four Americans (74%) see pretzels as a nutritious option, placing them at the top of the list as one of the healthiest salty treats (28%) above corn chips (16%), potato chips (6%) and cheese curls (3%).

While in the car, sitting at the office or lounging on the couch, seven in 10 Americans (70%) prefer to munch in peace and quiet, making snack time a solo activity. When reaching for a snack, most of the nation (57%) reaches for salty treats over sweet indulgences and despite what Hollywood portrays, most do not rely on indulgent snacks and treats to ease their pain and tears. In fact, 62% say they snack when they are feeling happy, not sad.

When it comes to parenting, variety can often be the key to keeping children happy. Perhaps that is why more parents than nonparents (66% vs. 56%) prefer an assortment of go-to snacks instead of sticking to the usual snack food suspects. The wide snack selection could also be why more parents than those without children (56% vs. 45%) choose snacks for breakfast.

The survey was conducted by Kelton Research in August 2011 using an email invitation and an online survey to 1,007 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older. Findings in this report have a margin of error of +/-3.1%.