Snack Size Matters: Study Reveals Impact on Eating Behavior and Sodium Intake

Snack Size Matters: Study Reveals Impact on Eating Behavior and Sodium Intake | The Lifesciences Magazine

Study Overview

A recent study led by researchers at Penn State University has unveiled the significant influence of snack size on eating behavior and sodium intake. Published in the journal Appetite, the study focused on understanding how the size of pretzels affects various aspects of snacking behavior, including overall intake, eating rate, bite-size, and snacking duration. With a substantial portion of daily calorie intake in the United States attributed to snacks, these findings have implications for promoting healthier eating habits and managing sodium consumption.

Key Findings

The study involved 75 adults who participated in snacking sessions where they consumed pretzels of different sizes: small, medium, and large. Through video recordings and measurements, researchers observed that participants consumed larger pretzels more quickly and with larger bites compared to smaller ones. Notably, despite eating smaller pretzels at a slower pace and with smaller bites, participants still had higher sodium intake. The size of the pretzel significantly influenced eating rate and bite-size, with larger pretzels leading to faster consumption and larger mean bite sizes.

Implications and Insights

Lead author John Hayes, a professor of food science at Penn State, emphasized that unit size influences intake by shaping eating behavior. Larger pretzel sizes prompted individuals to eat more quickly and take bigger bites, ultimately driving total intake. The study suggests that food characteristics such as size, texture, and shape can be leveraged to moderate snack intake effectively. Additionally, the relationship between pretzel size and sodium intake highlights the importance of considering both calorie and sodium content when selecting snacks. While smaller pretzels may be preferable for managing calorie intake, larger pretzels could be beneficial for individuals concerned about sodium consumption, as they contain less sodium per serving despite a higher overall pretzel consumption.


The study underscores the significance of snack size in shaping eating behavior and influencing nutrient intake, particularly sodium consumption. By understanding how food structure affects snacking habits, researchers aim to provide insights that can help individuals make healthier snack choices. The findings highlight the complex interplay between food characteristics, eating behavior, and nutritional outcomes, paving the way for more informed dietary recommendations and strategies for promoting healthier snacking habits.

Also Read: 10 Best Ways to Reduce Your Sodium Intake

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