Want to Snack Less? Keep Them Out of Reach


When it comes to unhealthy snacks, distance is your friend. Two studies that help explain why:


In one recent study, researchers randomly assigned 246 adults to sit at a large coffee table with a glass bowl of M&M’S either 8 inches or 2 1/3 feet away during a 10-minute “relaxation break” between two cognitive tests.

Roughly 70 percent of those near the bowl—but only 58 percent of those farther from the bowl—took some M&M’S.1

Google Snacks

At Google, employees have access to free snacks and drinks all day. A study in Google’s New York offices examined whether the location of the snacks affects how much people eat.

Researchers monitored a mini-kitchen used by roughly 400 employees for 7 workdays. The kitchen had two entrances and two beverage stations (each with a refrigerator and coffee machine). One station was near (6½ feet) and the other was far (17½ feet) from the snack bar, which had a display of M&M’S, chocolates, nuts, cookies, granola bars, chips, pretzels, fresh fruit, and other snacks.

Roughly 20 percent of employees who got a drink from the nearer beverage station—but only 12 percent of those who got a drink from the farther station—also grabbed a snack.2 The snacks’ location seemed to have more impact on men than on women.

What to Do

Keep unhealthy snacks out of sight…or at least out of reach. And make healthysnacks convenient. Keep fresh fruit on hand or stash pre-cut veggies with one of our favorite dips up front in your refrigerator.


Appetite 121: 337, 2018.
2 Appetite 103: 244, 2016.

Photo: © vadarshop/fotolia.com.

Find this article interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get science-based advice about diet and diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, and other chronic diseases; delicious recipes; and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.