Its a nice little break in your day. Its something to help pass the time while you watch TV. Each of these answers is part of the snacking habits of average Americans for better or for worse.

Research has identified two major types of snackers: Individuals who snack several times a day in response to true hunger. This type of snacking, which likely happens at regular times, allows adjustment of food intake from day to day, depending on the body needs. These snackers tend to be younger, healthy and lean. Individuals who choose snacks high in salt, sugar or fat and tend to snack at irregular times in response to environmental stimuli not because of hunger.

Snacking while watching TV is common. This type of snacking is not in response to the bodys needs, so it tends to lead to weight gain and poor nutrition. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), in the early 1970s, the average man got 502 of his daily calories from snacks, the average woman got 296. Jump forward 40 years, and those numbers increase to 634 calories for men and 438 for women.

Today, fewer Americans eat three meals a day, but most of us snack. In fact, 2 of 3 Americans eat two or more snacks each day. We get about 23 percent of our calories from snacks twice the average calories eaten at breakfast and about the same as the average lunch calories.

When are we doing this snacking? If you tend to eat both lunch and dinner, theres a 2 in 3 chance that you eat a snack in between, and a similar chance that you eat a snack between dinner and bedtime.

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