OBJECTIVE: Recent research emphasizes the importance of habit in explaining patterns of energy intake and choices of consumption. However, the nature of the association between habit strength and snacking has not been explored for all types of between-meal snacks.
DESIGN: Multilevel linear techniques were used to: (i) examine the association between habit strength and moment-to-moment energy intake (kilocalories) from snacks in daily life; and (ii) determine whether gender, age, level of education and BMI moderate the association between habit strength and moment-to-moment energy intake from snacks. A smartphone application based on the experience sampling method was used to map momentary between-meal snack intake in the context of daily life. Demographics and habit strength were assessed with an online composite questionnaire.
SETTING: This research was performed in the Netherlands in the natural environment of participants' daily life.
SUBJECTS: Adults (n 269) aged 20-50 years.
RESULTS: Habit strength was significantly associated with moment-to-moment energy intake from between-meal snacks in daily life: the higher the strength of habit to snack between meals, the higher the amount of momentary energy intake from snacks. The association between habit strength and moment-to-moment energy intake from snacks was moderated by education level. Additional analyses showed that habit strength was significantly associated with moment-to-moment energy intake from between-meal snacks in the low to middle level of education group.
CONCLUSIONS: It is recommended to address habitual between-meal snacking in future interventions targeting low- to middle-educated individuals.