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Retrospective study investigating the habits related to the snack consumption in a sample of the Greek population
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1  Unit of Human Nutrition, Laboratory of Nutrition and Public Health, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of the Aegean, 81400, Myrina, Lemnos, Greece
Academic Editor: Marcello Iriti (registering DOI)

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the snacking consumption habits of Greek consumers. We aimed to record the adequacy of the knowledge about the nutritional status of snacks and whether the snack-products are pre-packaged to evaluate consumer preferences regarding nutritional claims or the nutrition table information. A snack is generally defined as any food eaten between main meals. Since snacking has become a key part of modern eating behaviors, this study investigates the preferences and habits of adult consumers in Greece regarding the snacking consumption, which nowadays shows a growing trend. Snack foods are an established part of this trend. They have become an even more popular meal replacement for many people on the go. In this retrospective observational study, an online questionnaire targeting the opinions and habits of consumers was employed. In total, 1039 participants completed the survey. The majority (34.9%) age range was 35-44 years and 64.2% were female. The mean BMI was 24.8 kg/m2 (normal weight), while the final sample comprised 29.5% in overweight range and 11.4% with obesity. “Cereal bars” was the most popular choice (66,7%) because of limited time that respondents have during the day. The 60,3% of participants preferred a “tasty” snack rather than a “nutritious’ one. The 77,4% preferred nutrients derived from natural raw materials rather than a snack enriched with specific nutrients. The 3 most popular categories of nutrition claims on a food product were “Fat/Saturated Fat”, “Energy Value” and “Sugar Content”. The most popular claim (66.7%) on a pre-packaged snack label, was the “No sugar/no added sugar”. The main conclusion is that Greek adults prefer to consume a cheap, “grab ‘n’ go”, tasty, savory, snack with high nutritional value, with no added sugar, low in fat and calories and follow the habits of the Mediterranean diet. On the other hand, depending on the daytime, they also consume different types of snack regardless if they are healthy or not (e.g. chips at night). Due to time pressure some of them necessarily replace at least one main meal during the day. That’s why food industry should focus on developing enriched products (snacks) with nutritional ingredients from raw materials of the Mediterranean diet that promote nutritional claims in line with consumer demands.

Keywords: snacking habits; nutritional preferences; healthy food; snacking behaviour; snack frequency