Snacks Add Up to a 4th “Meal”
Confirming the increasing role of snacks in the US diet, research presented at the recent Institute of Food Technologists Expo reported that snacks now account for a quarter of the average American’s calorie intake—representing, in effect, a fourth daily meal. Richard Mattes, professor at Purdue University, said, “Between 1977 and 2006, snacking in the American diet has grown to constitute ‘a full eating event,’ or a fourth meal, averaging about 580 calories each day.” Half those calories, he added, come from beverages consumed between meals. The amount of between-meal eating—while doing something else, such as watching TV—doubled from 2006 to 2008, Mattes said, from 15 minutes daily to almost a half-hour. Beverage consumption outside of mealtimes jumped from 45 minutes to 85 minutes a day.