You will be surprised to know that snacking may also be influenced by your social settings, culture, tradition and socioeconomic status. Food culture in the true sense is a very broad term that involves several factors including environmental factors.
Though there is a number of comprehensive discussion and debate going on the plethora of diverse factors that influence the eating habit, the most significant factors seem to be the food insecurity and social modeling.
These are the most vital factors that need to be addressed because studies have shown that the type and amount of food consumed. By the eating companions affect different factors of any individual such as the portion size. This is called “social modeling.” According to a recent review, it is this social modeling that affects food consumption, both in size and type.
- It is seen that a person tries to imitate the person with whom they are eating. If the other person eats more, the person in question tends to eat more. On the other hand, if the other person eats less, the converse is true.
- Even if there is no eating companion present, it is the environmental cues about the food intake and choices of the earlier individuals that take up the place and influence intake.
Experts say that the greater influence of eating companions during snack times is due to the reason. That there is no specific “eating routine” or any “script” followed for snacking depending on a particular eating occasion. However, they say that meals are usually more constrained by specific certain behaviors or locations.
Celebratory social occasions
According to studies it is found that snack consumption is also significantly affected and often initiated due to celebratory social occasions. It also depends on other factors such as:
- The availability of food
- The desire of a person tempting food and many more.
When individuals are assessed on the basis of their desire to consume unhealthy snacks, it was found that people took foods that are high in fat or sugar. This desire is found to be even higher when they are celebrating at a party or any special occasion.
In a different study, it was found that people eat unhealthy snacks because they either crave for tasty food the food itself looks so good and smelled so tempting. Typically, it was found that unhealthy snacking is the result of:
- 55% of snacking occasions
- 49% hunger and
- 23% for the need of energy.
However, in some countries, there is a fourth meal or snack that is a part of the traditional meal pattern of the populace. These countries include:
- France was having a goûterin between lunch and dinner is customary
- The Philippines where a small meal called merienda is taken between lunch and dinner and
- Mexico where a mid-morning meal called almuerzo is very common.
It goes without saying that in these countries, tradition may play a significant role in motivating people to snack.
Food insecurity factor
If you consider the food-insecure populations, you will notice that the general concept of snacking is to skip meals. This is because the food-insecure individuals typically have limited or uncertain access to enough food at all times. To lead a healthful and active life.
The study conducted by the NHANES collects the food security data on these individuals that they call the Food Security Survey Module. According to this module, these individuals are divided into four specific groups such as:
- Food secure
- Marginally food secure
- Food secure without hunger and
- Food secure with hunger, in that order and that specific heading.
According to these studies it was found that the individuals who are food insecure without hunger are those who snack more often and also eat larger meals. As a result, they consume more calories due to excess eating as compared to those food-secure individuals.
On the other hand, food-insecure women without hunger typically consume more energy at snacks but a food-insecure man without hunger consumes more energy at meals as compared to their food-secure counterparts.
It is also found that the chief energy source for snacks among the food-insecure adults was:
This trend of increased snacking by these people indicates that snacks play a significant role in the life and diet of an individual. It also has the potential to affect the health of a person if the wrong type of food is consumed even due to the socioeconomic status. It is therefore always recommended by the experts that you be very careful when you order for home delivery snacks and choose only those items that will not affect your health but will serve your purpose.
Hedonic eating factor
Though not directly related to the socioeconomic factor, snacking can also be affected by hedonic and distracted eating.
Hedonic eating is referred to as the rewarding properties of food because it affects the sensitivity of a person. The personality model and the reinforcement sensitivity theory play a big part in the assertion of the regulation of food intake.
- Studies have shown the connection between reward sensitivity and eating behaviors that affect the food cravings in people. Both punishment and reward are sensitive but reward has a higher BMIs and food craving
- It is also seen that people who are more sensitive to reward tend to consume more energy-dense snacks along with sugar-sweetened beverages as compared to people who were less sensitive to it.
However, initiation of eating in the absence of hunger does not have any significant relation with sensitivity to reward. Studies have found. It is all about how high the inhibitory control scores are in people. So as to decline to take unhealthy food. It is this characteristic feature among the people the determines several other things such as:
- The BMI
- Impulsivity and
- Food reward sensitivity.
Therefore, you can conclude that snacking is not merely eating the food you like when you are hungry. A lot of it depends on the emotional. And socioeconomic factors which you need to understand when you order for your snacks.