Food has become a major source of entertainment, as well as a source of information about health, with food as a gateway drug.
But the average consumer can only have so many snacks and snacks can become so overwhelming, said Dr. Peter Lutz, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
So the food industry has begun to evolve in a way that encourages people to eat more snacks, he said.
“It’s the next step in food technology,” Lutz said.
There are currently more than 30 snack food companies in the United States, according to the company website.
The most popular snacks in the U.S. are Oreos and Doritos.
About 15 percent of adults report that they have eaten at least one snack in the past 30 days, according the U,C.M.H. The industry has also seen an explosion in marketing strategies, including the use of food brands and advertising to promote healthy eating.
A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people are eating more unhealthy snacks, such as chips, soda and fruit, while not eating enough healthy snacks to offset their health deficits.
“If you think about a diet and you are a weight-conscious person, you can have the calories you want, but if you’re not going to eat that many calories, you’re going to burn it,” said Jennifer Dyer, a dietitian and food scientist at the University of Chicago.
Dyer and colleagues found that when people were asked how much they would eat if they had a “normal” diet, they said they would consume between 50 and 90 percent of their body weight in calories.
When they were asked about the amount of calories they would be willing to eat if their body mass index (BMI) was the same as their age, the researchers found that they were willing to consume an average of around 70 percent of the calories they were supposed to.
“People have been able to come up with their own guidelines to what they want to eat,” Dyer said.
Lutz noted that the industry is pushing for people to be mindful about what they eat, even when it is healthy.
“I think there’s a growing awareness of that and how it impacts the whole environment,” he said, adding that consumers should eat at least three healthy snacks a day.
For example, Dyer recommends that people try to limit the amount they eat each day to between 100 to 150 calories, but not more than that.
She also recommends limiting the amount consumed each day on the days of the week, with meals being the most effective meal choice.
“You can eat more and you can eat less, but the more you eat, the more likely you are to gain weight,” Dyers said.
The food industry is also focusing on making healthy choices.
“There is a lot of advertising, and people are buying it to tell people what they should be eating, but what they really want to be eating is a variety of foods,” Dye said.
For instance, “soda is the best option,” said Mark Withers, a nutrition professor at the New York University School of Public Service.
“Food is the next best thing,” he added.
But Wither, who has been working with a group of dietitians, dietiters and nutritionists, said that people should not be focusing on their own diet or body composition as much as it should be about their health and well-being.
“When you start making healthy food choices, it’s a lot easier for people, because it’s just like eating, ‘Okay, here’s how many calories I want to get,'” Wither said.