US: Pass the Potato Chips, Please

US: Pass the Potato Chips, Please Photo (cc) by Niklas Bildhauer

Americans love to snack. And when it comes to choosing something to munch on, one food comes out on top.

According to a recent Nielsen study, Americans satisfy their snack cravings with potato chips more than any other food.

The salty, crunchy potato chip is a taste preference unique to the U.S. Across the globe, people tend to choose healthier snack options than Americans. MarketWatch said:

Europeans eat fresh fruit as their No. 1 snack, according to a new survey of 60 countries by research group Nielsen. Fresh fruit was also No. 1 in the Middle East and Africa. Latin Americans prefer yogurt, while chocolate was No. 1 in Asia-Pacific. … Snack sales, which include any bite-sized food product that people can eat on the go, are on the rise globally, to $374 billion for the 52 weeks to March 2014, an annual rise of 2 percent, the report found.

“In the dichotomy of snacking, consumers want healthy, but yet indulgent options are still going strong,” said Susan Dunn, a Nielsen executive.

That is especially true in North America, where chips, chocolate and cheese are the three most popular snacks. Unhealthy snacking has negative implications. According to MarketWatch, Americans snack two to three times a day.

Obesity rates in the U.S. currently stand at around 35 percent of the U.S. population or 78.6 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … While more healthy snacks, or snacks with some healthier ingredients, have been introduced in recent years, many snack foods are unhealthy and high in saturated fats and oils, says Andy Brennan, senior analyst at industry research group IBISWorld.

Americans’ passion for snacking is only expected to grow, especially considering people’s busy, on-the-go lifestyle. The study showed that snacking has increasingly replaced meals.

“There is a massive untapped opportunity to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market that snack manufacturers could fill,” Dunn said.

What is your favorite snack food? Do you find yourself snacking rather than eating a full meal? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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