Pause Points Cut Implusive Snacking

We live in an obesigenic world.

That is one in which the availability of high fat foods, inappropriate portion sizes, sugary drinks, social customs that promote overeating, poor access to low calorie foods, lack of exercise and the relentless promotion of unhealthy food choices means it is far easier to get fat than to stay fit. One in which poor nutrition is actively encouraged as the food industry pours billions of dollars into researching, creating, advertising and marketing foods that encourage obesity.

The results of this relentless propaganda speak for themselves. Currently, more than a billion people worldwide are overweight and over 300 million obese.* In the US alone obesity rose from 13% to 32% between the 1980’s and 2007. Currently 68% of American adults are overweight. Experts warn that this is just the start. Unless individuals take positive steps to safeguard themselves the world’s population will continue to grow bigger and less healthy with every passing year. It is not just those in the richer, developed nations who are at risk. Obesity rates are rising equally rapidly among the growing middle classes in China, India, the Middle East and South America.


Dr David Lewis conducts snack study under the camera’s gaze. Show airs August on ITV.

Having just finished filming two impulsive eating programmes for ITV, the problems caused by impulse snacking has been very much in my mind.  To give one example. As a nation we get through an estimated 6 billion packets of crisps a year and on average we each consume 150 packets of savoury snacks over a twelve month period. By eating out of a packet or bag you can consume 20 – 30% more than if you were to dish out exactly what you wanted to eat.

What Can We Do To Break the Habit?

If you insert ‘pause points’ you’re less likely to eat mindlessly. A pause point is literally something that makes you stop for a minute – having to take the sweet out of a wrapper, or open a new packet.

One study took this phenomenon to the extreme and dyed every 7th Pringle in the tube bright red – just to make the participants stop and think. People given these tubes ate 48% less Pringles. That’s 250 calories in one sitting.

So if you snack impulsively keep in mind these simple rules.

You’re more likely to overeat if you don’t know when to stop – visual clues and pause points can be helpful reminders.

Large value packs might help your wallet but they won’t help your waist – you’ll end up eating more.

  • Measure out snacks into little portions. Eat from a bowl not from the packet.
  • If you take food to work don’t take the whole packet of biscuits. Take a few and put them in a smaller bag.
  • Chose snacks that are individually wrapped. Just not being able to mindlessly put food in your mouth will give you a pause point and make you think about whether you really need that snack.


* Source: WHO;





I am a neuropsychologist who has been called the ‘father of neuromarketing’ due to my pioneering work in this area during the late 1980’s.

Watch the world’s first ever demonstration of what, some twenty-years later, would be called ‘neuromarketing’ which I gave on Tomorrow’s World back in the early 1990′s.

I started out studying medicine but later switched to psychology and obtained my doctorate from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex. After lecturing there in Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology I left to found my own research laboratory, Mindlab International, which specialises in brain research and neuroscience as applied to consumer behaviour and decision-making.

Dr David Lewis along with Businessman and Illusionist Keelan Leyser travel internationally giving Keynote presentations on their research on Marketing and also on Impulse Buying.