FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

The Snack Food Addiction?

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English: Corn chips (Fritos)

English: Corn chips (Fritos) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit the snack aisles in your supermarket – so many choices, so little time!!. I just noticed today that my supermarket actually has two lengthy aisles with chips, snack cakes, cookies, and crackers all separated into individual sections.  How convenient!

Also in the news this week was the revelation that the French are getting fat.   For years they have been at the bottom of the pack when it comes to obesity rates.  Now, they attribute their recent obesity problem to an increased interest in fast food and processed foods,  the ubiquity of unhealthy snacks, sedentary lives, and a neglect of their traditional mealtimes that involved the family eating together enjoying their freshly prepared food.  Twenty-five years, it was estimated that the average French meal lasted about 88 minutes; today it is down to 38 minutes.

Snack foods in my opinion, lead to mindless eating – remember, “bet you can’t eat just one” from potato chip fame. And it doesn’t look much better for the future.  Americans are snacking more than ever with retail sales of packaged snacks at $64 billion in 2010, up from $56 billion in 2006, according to Packaged Facts new “Snack Foods in the U.S., 4th Edition.” The market is predicted to reach $77 billion by 2015.

Children are replacing meals with snacks. When teaching college nutrition courses, students would come to class snacks in hand.   And snack food companies are promoting these foods as “healthier” by adding functional fibers, making claims for whole grains, adding vitamins and minerals and trying to lower the fat, sugar, and salt content.  But these types of foods are for the most part so inferior to whole, real foods.  Many contain GM ingredients like corn and soy – just read the list of ingredients (if you have time).  And look for the sugar grams especially if they reduce the fat – manufacturers will raise the sugar content for taste to offset the lack of fat.

There is mounting evidence that not only are fast foods addictive but also snack foods as well.  Check out a previous post.

For more recent evidence, CLICK HERE.

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3 thoughts on “The Snack Food Addiction?

  1. As a teacher i also observe that students would come to class and they always snacks in hand. Funny thing is that i also eat in break time because companies added some extra nutrition in it. Thank you for the post.

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  2. Thanks for the very thoughtful comment, Betsy. I agree so much with you that food addiction is “cunning, baffling, and powerful”. It may be impossible to combat unless the food industry changes its addictive properties that lead to and continue the subtleties of the addiction. That may never happen until the consumer becomes more aware of the problem.

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  3. I applaud all efforts to educate the public on the addictive qualities of snack foods. As studies show, even when informed, adults continue to make poor food choices, which supports one of my long-held beliefs that our country lives in ignorance about the deadly nature of food addiction. I have an eating disorder and can speak from experience about the subtle brain rush one gets from ingesting a triggering food. Denial runs deeply; therefore, convincing the population that sugary or salty snacks will cause neurobiological changes in the brain that will eventually leave them powerless to stop eating these lethal foods is a message that simply cannot be heard, much less be taken to heart. Food addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. It can be created in the body just like alcohol or cocaine addiction. How we raise awareness around this juggernaut with a society who is already largely addicted and a massive food industry who doesn’t care remains, in my mind, the biggest health issue our country faces today.

    Thank you for continuing to offer interesting and relevant nutrition information. I enjoy every posting.

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