How can eating mini-size snacks lead to weight gain?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Mini sized snacks, like 100 calorie snack packs may or may not lead to weight gain. There are a few factors to consider. All calories count, so even small snacks add up. Generally 100 calorie snack packs are full of refined flours and sugars which lead to spikes in blood sugar and the desire to want more. Oftentimes people will eat three packages to feel full and satisfied and that defeats the purpose of the mini snack. A small handful of nuts with fresh fruit, veggies with hummus, or sliced turkey with tomatoes and avocado are better choices.

The trick to avoiding a candy binge is avoiding the minipacks and taking a small handful from a big bag instead. Treats in small Halloween-size packages can trick even careful eaters into overindulging. In a recent study, people concerned about their waistlines ate more high-calorie snacks when given small bags instead of big ones.

Why? In a related study, minipacks of foods like M&Ms and little cookies led people to go overboard because they viewed the smaller portions as "healthier" versions of high-calorie treats. And careful eaters were less likely to even open big bags of candy, unlike snack packs. Which means small bags may do a better job of luring you into high-calorie munching in the first place.

One alert: According to the study, minis don't seem to make everyone overeat -- only those who are concerned about managing their weight. People who weren't concerned about gaining weight munched more snacks from large bags than small ones. Either way, what it all boils down to is portion control. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.