A ‘healthy’ shift in India’s snacking habit


While the idea of snacking encompasses a variety of foods, a recent survey finds that over the past few years, there has been a conscious change in people’s preferences and habits, and a stronger inclination is seen towards healthier snacking items.

According to a survey conducted by IPSOS, 91 percent of the participants try and opt for healthier alternatives whilst snacking.

The quantitative survey aimed to identify the snacking habits and preferences amongst a group of people whose dietary preferences were divided into two categories – ‘vegetarian’ and ‘non-vegetarian’. Overall, the results indicate that the participants across both categories prefer to snack on healthy and nutritious food items such as almonds and fruits.

A total of 4,064 SEC A men and women, between 18 – 50 years were interviewed across 11 cities in India, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad.

The survey also highlighted that most of the participants – vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians preferred snacking on homemade items (53 percent). Additionally, preference for healthier snacking options such as fruits and almonds specifically was also noticed in participants within the age band of 41-50 years. Besides that, the survey observed that women in India were more worried about nutrition needs (63 per cent) when compared to men (53 per cent).

Commenting on the survey, nutrition and wellness consultant, Sheela Krishnaswamy said: “The fact that a larger percentage of women have shown an interest in opting for healthier snacks is a good sign, and in the long run, this can help trigger a shift towards leading healthier lifestyles. For many households in India, women have complete charge of the family’s nutrition and meal plan, and a higher awareness amongst them can lead to the entire family adopting healthier alternatives. This trend of snacking on healthy foods like almonds is a positive change, and I strongly recommend to continue to eat a handful every day as they are a source of nutrients such as protein, fiber, iron, folate, copper, healthy fats etc. and known to be beneficial for weight management, heart health and diabetes management.”

According to regional head, Dietetics, Max Healthcare, Delhi, Ritika Samaddar: “It’s interesting to note that people across India, including in metro as well as non-metro cities, are slowly changing their view of snacking. Whether it’s choosing homemade snacks, fruits or almonds, the survey highlights a trend that most Indians are moving towards healthy and mindful snacking options which is very heartening. Almonds in particular make for a good snack, since they are ‘crunchy’ and ‘healthy’ – both properties that most participants associated with. Added to that, regular consumption of almonds can also have a positive impact on a person’s immunity since they are high in Vitamin E, which is known to stimulate the body’s defenses, enhance humoral and cell immune responses.”

The survey showcased that overall 72 percent of the participants were aware of the nutrient requirements of the body, participants from Ahmedabad (89 per cent), Delhi (82 per cent), Chandigarh (80 per cent), Mumbai(78 per cent) showed maximum awareness and whereas least awareness was seen among the participants from Kolkata (46 per cent). Additionally, amongst both vegetarian and non-vegetarians, 59 per cent of the participants said they worried about their nutritional needs. While participants in Ahmedabad (83 per cent) and Chennai (70 per cent) were most concerned, participating in Bhopal (45 per cent) were least concerned. Weight gain (22 per cent) followed by inadequate nutrients (21 per cent) emerged as the top concerns associated with snacking, and while participants in Jaipur (55 per cent) were most concerned about weight gain, participants in Bengaluru (6 per cent) were least concerned.

Pilates expert and diet and nutrition consultant, Madhuri Ruia said: “By switching to more wholesome and nutrient rich snacks like almonds, many families have begun their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. But be sure to make these changes across the spectrum of snacking timings and occasions, and inculcate these in all household members – young or old, to see long term benefits. Snacking on almonds in particular is a good habit that can easily be adapted by all, as they can be consumed anytime during the day, and pair well with Indian spices. Besides that, almonds are known to aid in weight management, which was a key concern amongst most participants. As per a recent study, snacking on 42 grams of almonds everyday also reduced central adiposity (belly fat) and waist circumference, all well-established heart disease risk factors.”