Diet-Sized Snack Packs Turn Off Willpower

The expensive way to NOT lose weight?

Are you a fan of 100-calorie snack packs? You may want to reconsider these little devils in disguise.

Some interesting research has emerged from the Journal of Consumer Research. Rik Pieters and colleagues at Tilburg University in the Netherlands have shown that diet-sized snack packs may actually cause people to eat more.

As published in Wednesday’s New Scientist:

They had 140 students watch TV – to rate advertising, they were told – and gave them either two 200-gram bags of potato chips or nine 45-gram packs. To activate “self-regulatory concerns”, half of the students were asked about weight issues and weighed in front of a mirror – all supposedly as part of another study.

Among students without weight thoughts, three-quarters opened their small bags and half opened their large bags. Both ate about the same amount. In volunteers primed with a diet mindset, however, just a quarter of students opened their large bags, eating half as many chips as the 59 per cent of students who cracked open the small packs.

Pieters thinks that people drop their guard around pre-proportioned snack foods and thinks other “health” foods may have same effect.

It’s always about willpower, isn’t it? I can see the appeal of these snack packs to people who have trouble with the WILLdebeast. How irritating that something that’s supposed to help us learn self-control actually hinders it.

Willpower or not, these snack packs are just spendy ways to buy processed food and I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. If you’re trying to practice portion control, then what about nuts or fruit? You can figure out the right portions yourself and this way you’re LEARNING something rather than letting a big evil company do the work for you. They don’t care if you lose weight or not. They’re just in it to make more money. Sad thing is, they are.

Diet-sized snack packs turn off willpower [New Scientist]

3 thoughts on “Diet-Sized Snack Packs Turn Off Willpower

  1. MizFit

    you are 100% right.

    although I do think, for some people, this is the perfect learning tool.

    the roots and WINGS to learning to gage on their own.


  2. SeaBreeze

    This study is awesome. I have always suspected that if I buy snack-packs then I will eat them. If I don’t have them then I have to actively think about what I am and am not putting into my body.

  3. Sheamus

    The problem with some that comes in 100-calorie options is one hundred calories seems like such a nothing amount – and it is – that it’s easy to think, ‘Oh, one more pack won’t hurt… I’ll just run it off tomorrow…’ and down the slippery slope you go.

    Having said that there’s been a lot of stuff on the various health/fitness blogs this week about vices and a lot of people really seem to struggle whenever anything calorific is in the house, many preferring an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to junk food. I think until you can get past that lack of self-control any advances you make with your own health and fitness will always be fleeting.

    That’s why for me an“ rel=”nofollow”>80-20 approach to nutrition is far and away the best method. Six days a week I’m eating clean (in my case, low-GI) and on the seventh it’s party time. It works – I’m in really great shape and I’m guesstimating 2-3 months away from a six pack.


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