'Snack' versus 'meal': The impact of label and place on food intake
Abstract Eating behaviour is influenced by both cognitions and triggers in the environment. The potential difference between a ‘snack’ and a ‘meal’ illustrates these factors and the way in which they interact, particularly in terms of the label used to describe food and the way it is presented. To date no research has specifically explored the independent and combined impact of label and presentation on eating behaviour. Using a preload/taste test design this experimental study evaluated the impact of label (‘snack’ vs. ‘meal’) and place (‘snack’ vs. ‘meal’) of a preload on changes in desire to eat and subsequent food intake. Eighty female participants consumed a pasta preload which labelled as either a ‘snack’ or a ‘meal’ and presented as either a ‘snack’ (standing and eating from a container) or a ‘meal’ (eating at a table from a plate), generating four conditions. The results showed main effects of label and place with participants consuming significantly more sweet mass (specifically chocolate) at the taste test when the preload had been labelled a ‘snack’ and more total mass and calories when the preload had been presented as a ‘snack’. No label by place interactions were found. The results also showed a combined effect of both label and place with those who had eaten the preload both labelled and presented as a ‘snack’ consuming significantly more in terms of nearly all measures of food intake than those in the other conditions. To conclude, label and presentation influence subsequent food intake both independently and combined which is pertinent given the increase in ‘snacking’ in contemporary culture.
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