A new study wanted to discover if offering a healthier snack option would cause individuals to change their snacking habits, as well as determine if this change would have any effects on their blood glucose levels.
For lots of people, snacking in between meals has become a normal part of their day. However, most people tend to choose snacks that are easy and readily available but usually don’t have the greatest nutritional value. Consistent snacking on foods that are limited in their nutritional content may be impacting the quality of a person’s overall diet, which in turn, may have consequences in regards to the development of certain disorders such as diabetes and obesity. With all of this information, there has been a shift in consumer attitudes, with a growing desire to increase the accessibility to healthy snacking options. With this in mind, researchers wanted to determine if easy access to a healthy snack option would change people’s snacking habits, and furthermore, determine if changing these habits would have any impact on blood glucose levels, an important factor in the development of these disorders.
This study, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, looked at a total of 28 individuals all of whom were at least 40 years of age. The diet of these individuals consisted of snacks that were considered by researchers to be unhealthy, as they consisted of refined carbs, and the participants generally did not live an active lifestyle. Blood samples were taken in order to measure baseline HbA1c levels, which gives an idea of a person’s average blood glucose levels. In addition, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire that allowed researchers to determine their daily and weekly intake of sweets and sugary drinks. From this questionnaire, researchers were able to provide participants with enough Nothing Else bars, a healthy snack alternative, in order for them to replace their usual snacks with this bar. The study lasted for a duration of 13 weeks. In order to determine compliance in eating the Nothing Else bars, the food frequency questionnaire was repeated twice after the initial survey, and blood tests were repeated four more times during the study to measure any changes in blood glucose levels.
The results from the study indicate that the availability of a healthy snack option led to a decrease in the consumption of other snacks such as biscuits, cakes, and pies. This suggests that people are willing to change their diet and eat healthier, if given the opportunity. The results also indicate that even though some individuals experienced a decrease in their blood glucose levels, the overall effect was minor.
These findings suggest that given the choice, people would like to choose a healthy snack over an unhealthy option. This improvement in dietary habits can have an overall beneficial impact on a person’s health and their likelihood of developing certain disorders. While this is promising, there are some key things to note. Firstly, the individuals in this study were provided the Nothing Else bars for free and were deemed healthy by researchers. This is important because many consumers do not take the time to read and fully understand dietary labels on products and therefore are not able to determine if a certain bar or snack is healthy or not. Also, this study heavily relied on participants in regards to the food questionnaire. As a result, there is always the possibility for bias in the responses. Additionally, the study period was short, and therefore more research needs to be conducted to determine the long-term effects of snacking habits on blood glucose levels.
Written By: Sonia Parmar, BSc