Reducing consumption of unhealthy snacks in children - healing practice

Prevent overweight and obesity in children

Children often like to eat unhealthy snacks, which can lead to weight problems, overweight and obesity. A new intervention program aims to help children change their eating habits and kick unhealthy eating habits.

A new study involving experts from the University of Staffordshire examined the impact of a Social Norms Approach intervention on the snacking behavior of school children. The results were published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.

The snacking behavior of 150 teenagers was examined

Over 150 students were examined as part of the research. These came from the seventh year and were between eleven and twelve years old. All participants attended one of two schools in Greater Manchester and Staffordshire.

What is the social norms approach?

Participants were either assigned to a control group or assigned to a group using a technique called the social norms approach (SNA). This is based on correcting misperceptions of other people's behavior.

All students received information on healthy eating. Participants in the Social Norms Approach group also received feedback in which their misjudgment of their classmates' snacking behavior was corrected.

Errors in judgment lead to unhealthy eating

High school students often overestimate the number of unhealthy snacks their peers eat. Because of these errors in judgment, they then tend to eat more unhealthy snacks themselves, the researchers report.

"In focus groups of 11-13 year olds conducted before the intervention, we found that although they knew what healthy eating behaviors are and their short- and long-term effects, they did not always practice these behaviors. “, Reports author of the study Sian Calvert in a press release.

Snacks compromise the regular consumption of meals

School children were found to regularly consume unhealthy snacks. This affected their regular meals. The researchers report that the children skipped meals because they had simply snacked too much beforehand.

Unhealthy eating habits are often developed during puberty

"Puberty is an important time of rapid growth and development, but it's also a time when children gain more control over their own eating and often develop unhealthy eating habits," the study author said. , Dr. Rachel Povey.

"In high school, students can stop at a store on the way to school or buy snacks on the way home, to have access to a wider variety of foods," she said. declared.

Fewer unhealthy snacks with ANS

In the present study, however, children in the Social Norms Approach group ended up consuming significantly fewer unhealthy snacks. Moreover, these children also had a more accurate perception of the behavior of other students and showed less positive attitudes towards unhealthy snacks, the team reports.

The researchers conclude that strategies that correct normative misperceptions, such as the social norms approach, could be a viable approach in schools to promote healthy eating behavior at an impressionable age. (as)

Author and source information

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Sian M Calvert, Robert C Dempsey, Rachel Povey, David Clark-Carter: A school-based social norms approach intervention to reduce unhealthy snacking behaviors in 11-12 year olds; in: British Journal of Health Psychology (accessed 07/07/2022), British Journal of Health PsychologyStaffordshire University: Study reveals how to prevent young people from eating unhealthy snacks (published 07/06/2022), Staffordshire UniversityRobert Koch Institute : Thematic sheet: Obesity (as of 07/02/2022). .2020), RKI

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.