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Appetite. 2015 Jan;84:20-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.013. Epub 2014 Sep 23.

It's my party and I eat if I want to. Reasons for unhealthy snacking.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80 140, 3508 TC, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: aukje.verhoeven@gmail.com.
2
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80 140, 3508 TC, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
3
Strategic Communication Chairgroup, Wageningen University & Research Centre, PO Box 8130, 6700 EW, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Marketing, University of Groningen, PO Box 72, 9700 AB, Groningen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Investigating the reasons that people give for unhealthy snacking behavior is important for developing effective health interventions. Little research, however, has identified reasons that apply to a large audience and most studies do not integrate multiple factors, precluding any conclusions regarding their relative importance. The present study explored reasons for unhealthy snacking among a representative community sample. Participants (N = 1544) filled out the newly developed Reasons to Snack inventory assessing an elaborate range of motives at baseline and 1-month follow-up. Exploratory and replication factor analyses identified six categories: opportunity induced eating, coping with negative emotions, enjoying a special occasion, rewarding oneself, social pressure, and gaining energy. The highest mean scores were obtained for enjoying a special occasion and opportunity induced eating. Regression analyses with participant characteristics as independent variables and each category of reasons as dependent variables showed differences for age. For all reasons except to enjoy a special occasion, younger people reported a higher score. Women indicated a higher score than men on coping with negative emotions, enjoying a special occasion and gaining energy. People who diet to a stronger extent reported a higher score for snacking because of social pressure, to reward oneself and to cope with negative emotions, with the latter also being related to a higher BMI. Finally, a higher education was associated with enjoying a special occasion. Future health interventions could allocate more attention to diminishing unhealthy snacking with regard to the six identified categories, specifically focusing on enjoying a special occasion and opportunity induced eating.

KEYWORDS:

Community sample; Diet; Eating behavior; Reasons; Unhealthy snacking

PMID:
25261101
DOI:
10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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