Ambiguity of 'snack' in British usage

A Chamontin, G Pretzer, David Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)


Research into least fattening eating patterns indicates that in England 'a snack' is a term that refers to different eating habits from 'snacking' and that neither pattern of behaviour necessarily involves 'snack food'. These hypotheses were tested by randomised mailings to a convenience sample of university campus addressees with the subject heading of the message and the topic of questions in it being one of the terms, a snack, snacking or snack food. Responses to all three terms much more often referred to eating between mealtimes than eating at mealtimes but this contrast was less for a snack, especially at lunchtime. Previous and subsequent eating occasions therefore tended to be at mealtimes, but again less so for a snack. A snack also differed from snacking or eating snack food in eliciting more reports by women of eating in the home than out, and more eating alone than in company. However, reports by men contributed most to differences between snack terms in the foods reported: more men ate bread in a snack than when snacking but more ate sweet items when snacking than in a snack. More men reported savoury items (e.g. potato crisps) as snack food than in response to the other two terms; however, when savouries were combined with bread-containing items, the women were unlike the men in that more of them referred to such items when snacking. Thus, for these people in England, having a snack is not the same thing as snacking or eating snack food. Because of these ambiguities in use of the root word snack, it may be best to avoid all its derivatives in questions to research participants, discussion among investigators and educational messages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-29
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003


  • potato crisps
  • light meals
  • having a snack
  • eating snackfood
  • bread
  • snacking


Dive into the research topics of 'Ambiguity of 'snack' in British usage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this