The snack that has it all: People's associations with ideal snacks

Caroline Schlinkert*, Marleen Gillebaart, Jeroen Benjamins, Maartje Poelman, Denise de Ridder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Although many people intend to eat healthily, their actual snacking behavior is often marked by a high consumption of calorie-dense, unhealthy snacks. One reason for this discrepancy may be that people tend to associate unhealthy food with tasty food, preventing them to follow up on their healthy snacking goals. To support people in snacking more healthily according to their intentions, there is an urgent need to better understand how people perceive the ‘ideal snack’, which may eventually be used to make healthy snacks more attractive. In the present research, we aim to elucidate conceptions of ideal snacks without loaded connotations of healthy and unhealthy, and subsequently compare them to features that are associated with healthy and unhealthy snacks. A Dutch community sample (N = 1087) was asked to generate conceptions of their ideal snack, and name features of what they considered to be (un)healthy snacks. The results revealed a multitude of idiosyncratic ideal snack conceptions. Commonalities were sensory characteristics and the notion of ‘healthy’. Healthy and unhealthy snacks were primarily associated with their positive or negative consequences for health. These findings may inform the design and marketing of healthy, nutritionally balanced snacks that are palatable and attractive to the very people that make food choices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104722
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • Healthy food
  • Public health policy
  • Public opinion
  • Snacking
  • Word features

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