Snacks are everywhere in the US nowadays; Americans cannot seem to get enough of them. And the constant consumption of packaged bars, chips, and sweets is having quite an effect on their health.
In 2007, 10% of Americans said they snack during daytime, a significant rise since on the late 1970s. But as of 2015, figures released by Mintel show that 94% of US citizens snack on a daily basis.
It is also now more acceptable to snack at work and while walking, shopping, or even driving.
“We live in a 24/7 food culture now,” said Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center.
On top of that, snacks are no longer just crisps and biscuits.
“Manufacturers have tried to tap into Americans’ concern for health,” said Paula Johnson, curator of food history at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
Medical News Today reported in 2017 that obesity in children and teenagers is 10 times higher now than it was in 1975, according to research conducted by scientists from Imperial College London (ICL) in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
In American adults, obesity has also been on the rise during the past decade, according to the American Cancer Society. Obesity is linked to higher occurrences of cancer.
Aware of the implications of this, US health officials are currently going through research papers to better understand the exact mechanism of the relation between the frequency of eating and weight gain and obesity.
But Sophie Egan, who writes about American food culture, says it is not just about nutrition: eating snacks alone is a symptom of the increasingly strenuous, hectic jobs that allow no time for eating with other people, a staple of human culture throughout history.
“Who knows how much food is a Band-Aid for those issues,” Egan said.