100 Calorie Packs Makes You Fat

Smaller-sized 100-calorie snack packs are supposed to help with weight loss, but the problem is they don’t work. In an experiment published in the Journal of Consumer Research, subjects were primed to think about their body shape and then given bags of potato chips and placed in front of a TV. The group that was given nine small bags ate much more than those given two large bags, 46.1 grams vs 23.5. What’s going on? It appears that the smaller size tricks people into thinking they’re eating less, so they feel fine about chowing down more. Consumers may merrily consume the innocently small packages of Little Pleasures at an even higher pace,” wrote the study’s authors, “leading to over-consumption.”

Overindulgence in Small Packages [NYT]

100 Calorie Packs Are Still A Scam, Cost More For Less Food
Like Those 100 Calorie Packs? You’re Paying Twice As Much


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  1. gjaluvka says:

    Oh, come on, how stupid!

    Over in this corner of the world we realize that limiting our indulgence to 1 100 calorie pack is the whole idea.

    They are tremendously cost-ineffective, but when they go on sale they are a great tool for kids’ school lunchboxes.

  2. And I live in a place where beer is limited to 6%ABV and containers smaller than 20 ounces. Same type of genius at work there.

  3. Ben Popken says:

    @gjaluvka: It’s not stupid, it’s science.

  4. ironchef says:

    it’s the TV.
    shoving food in the mouth unconsciously while fixated on the boob tube is a guarantee they won’t pay attention to portions.

  5. strangeffect says:

    Same deal with Lite dressing, no?

  6. Bladefist says:

    @gjaluvka: Buy a large bag of the snack, and zip lock bags. It’s called getting off your ass.

  7. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I have to disagree. Smaller packages generally cost more per unit than large packages, so people on a budget would be better off with small-portion packages.

  8. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    This is exactly why I dont eat sucklings, or veal, or midgits.

    I lie, I eat all three.

  9. Farquar says:


    Same for diet soda. Apparently as advanced as we are among God’s creatures, we are generally just a bunch of self-destructive retards.

  10. Carl3000 says:

    Leave me alone to feast on the 3.5 potato chips that come in this bag

  11. milk says:

    I just realized the Quaker Mini Delights I love, which have 90 calories, have nothing but saturated fats in them. I don’t really get why. Maybe it’s the minute little amount of drizzle that’s on top. I suppose that’s why a little bag of poofs tastes so good.

  12. Sidecutter says:

    @Farquar: OK, but unlike these, diet soda has…nothing. Except sodium, which is something a limited number of people need to be extra careful with.

    How is more of nothing worse than less of nothing? Indeed, drinking more diet soda would leave less room in the stomach to overeat on the actual food.

  13. evslin says:

    @ironchef: I don’t think the presence of the TV accounts 100% for why people were eating twice as much out of the 100 calorie packs, but you’re right that not applying brainpower to how you’re feeding yourself won’t help matters much anyway. That’s why I don’t eat at all while I’m watching TV.

  14. Farquar says:

    @Sidecutter: Read the article.

    People that drink diet soda, unaware of their own stupidity, will excuse other bad eating habits because in their mind drinking diet soda makes up for it. Which, in at least one study caused the group drinking diet soda to gain more weight than the groug drinking regular soda.

    Which isn’t too far off of this story, as it shows that because people are unaware of their own stupidity, they think that they aren’t eating as much as they actually are because the packages are cute and little.

    Basically we’re all idiots. Thats really were I was going with this.

  15. Nothing wrong with eating in front of the TV.

    Just don’t bring the ENTIRE FEEDBAG TO THE COUCH. Seriously. Portion a little out onto a paper towel and take it in with you.

  16. Squot says:

    See, but the thing is, A: One of the reasons that 100 calorie snack packs work is laziness.

    You grab one. You sit down. You eat it. Are you really going to get back up just to grab more? To me, this seems somewhat flawed, because it’s not like the target audience would just grab nine packs and sit down in front of the TV. That’s a box and a half of them!

    The other thing that I’m just going to reiterate for people, because every time the 100 calorie packs come up, the same things are said.

    -If they had what is in a 100 calorie pack available in larger bags, I would buy them large and self-pack them.- I happen to really like the wafer chocolate chip cookies, and I like the thin oreo things. They don’t come in any other way then the 100 calorie packs.

    And no, this is not just me saying I’d repack them. When I get home from the grocery, the plastic bags come out, and I portion out dried pasta, chips, cookies, and everything else.

  17. dripdrop says:

    I find that 100-calorie packs are great. Of course, I have the willpower to stop after just one.

  18. joemono says:

    @Bladefist: I tried that once with Cheetos. All the little baggies were full of stale Cheetos after two days.

  19. privateer says:

    And don’t you just know the companies fully knew this is exactly what would happen when they put these products on the market. Pay more, eat more, want more.

  20. edosan says:

    This just in: people that do not use products properly are disappointed when they don’t work.

    More news as it develops.

  21. MissPeacock says:

    I keep a box of the 100-calorie Oreo “granola” bars at my desk at work. I find that I often crave something sweet and chocolaty in the afternoons, and they really satisfy that craving (and keep me away from the 300 calorie chocolate bars in the vending machines).

    Mostly (as my boyfriend says) it’s learning that when you want something unhealthy, you usually just need a taste of it to stop the craving; don’t try to satisfy all of your hunger with something like chips or ice cream, or you’ll eat the whole bag. (Believe me, I know this from personal experience.)

    Sometimes I brush my teeth when I crave something sweet; it usually kills the craving pretty quickly.

  22. camille_javal says:

    @Ben Popken: It’s the science of stupidity.

    This does drive me a little nuts. I went through a 100-calorie packs phase, when I was working with a long commute (read: tired all the time and too lazy to portion into baggies) and took my lunch to work (I don’t like to buy lunch because of the many difficulties in controlling that in terms of money, nutrition, etc). I eat many times throughout the day, so I needed small snacks. But that was the whole point. I knew exactly how much I was eating, and it’s EASY math.

    Are people so slow that they think, oh, it’s only 100 calories! – and don’t think that 100+100+100+100+100+100 = you could have eaten a much more delicious and satisfying dessert, and not been deluding yourself about your eating habits?

    don’t answer that.

  23. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Carl3000: If you crush them, you could have potentially hundreds of mini-chips, aka “crumbs”.
    100’s > 3.5, so, it is really the best move.

  24. Xerloq says:

    I’m so grateful to the NYT for exposing this conspiracy of dietary fraud! I’ll never eat ANYTHING from ANY company that provides such snacks KNOWING they’re ripping off the consumer. It’s just Big Food out to get us! RIP OFF!

    Had to get that out of my system.

    Who didn’t know this already? Oh, the people who buy the stuff because they can’t divide their own portions into baggies?

  25. Nytmare says:

    @Xerloq: Who is wiser, the man who knows he doesn’t know everything about how sneaky advertising works, or the one who thinks he does?

  26. deadspork says:

    I use the 100 calorie snack packs in-between meals to control hunger and keep a handle on my calories/portioning. They are perfect for this because they are already measured out, they’re in small, convenient, lunch-box worthy packages and all the dietary information is on each individual package.

    I already spend 45 minutes each day planning out the next day’s meals, I don’t need that time expanded because along with measuring out vegetables, fruits, salad dressings and the like, I have to measure out individual low-calorie snacks. They are perfectly convenient and I’m willing to pay for that convenience.

  27. battra92 says:

    @Farquar: Well some do that. In theory if you change NOTHING but drinking diet instead of regular you will lose weight.

    But yeah, you can’t just use it as an excuse for other bad habits. I cut portion size and switched to diet at the same time. It helped me more than anything.

    Down 30 with 20 to go!

  28. azntg says:

    @dripdrop: You’re a better person that I am. I am only tempted for more when a package only has 3 or 4 measly pieces.

  29. packetsniffer says:

    So how does that explain the people eating less from the big bag?

  30. mammalpants says:

    who cares? lets figure out a way to blame Best Buy!

  31. Coolmatt49 says:

    First off, I wouldn’t want to have a 12-pack of “Fun-Size” Doritos in front of me 24/7. I would keep them away and only take one to snack on.

    In relation to the article, the effect is completely opposite with me. I feel better having the smaller pack of chips than buying a huge bag of it. When I open the huge bag, I keep eating the chips because they are there. With a small pack bag, I eat what I have and then that’s it.

    Saying “100 Calorie Packs Makes You Fat” is pretty stupid. They don’t make you fat, the people that decide to eat 10 of them at once and think they are eating “lite” make themselves fat.

  32. uricmu says:

    This is the dumbest thing that I’ve ever seen.

    The whole point of the small bags is that people tend to finish the portion that they’re given, so a smaller bag allows them to take on small portion. Obviously taking more than one bag beats the purpose.

  33. pollyannacowgirl says:

    If you’re eating empty calories, you’re going to just eat a ton until your brain gets a signal to stop. If you’re eating a nutritious snack, you’ll be able to stop earlier and be satisfied.

    And can I tell you that diet soda is really not good at all? Do some research on aspartame. And then do some on phosphoric acid.

    Personally, I find that a couple of handfuls of almonds, or a chunk of cheese usually does it.

  34. BytheSea says:

    I don’t think that’s why they ate more. I think when you’re given a serving size bag of something, you always finish it. If you’re given a large bag, you just eat as much as you want.

  35. pigeonpenelope says:

    Oh for crying out loud. Its like saying that strawberries make you fat. The 100 calorie packs aren’t filled with magic ingredients that are supposed to make you lose weight, they are portioned snacks that help you reduce the size of the portion you’ve otherwise helped yourself too. This way you can have a little indulgence.

  36. Raanne says:

    meh – i always thought the hundred calorie packs were stupid, but my fiance works near a hostess outlet store, so he stops in to buy bread, etc., on the way home and he picked some up for me when i was on a diet – they are actually very nice to have around the house. If i’m trying to lose weight, but i’m craving something sweet, its nice to be able to grab something that i know is only 100 calories. usually one of those is enough to satisfy the craving.

  37. lihtox says:

    This study is useful, but the take-home message isn’t “100-calorie packs are EEEEVIL”, it’s “you should be aware of this phenomenon so you don’t do it yourself.” (Note, by the way, that the same problem would occur if you had packaged the snacks in little baggies yourself.)

    The 100-calorie packs have one advantage to bag-it-yourself: it’s easy to open a baggie, sneak one or two cookies out of it, and reseal the bag; pretty soon you’ve snuck all the cookies out of there without even noticing it. Opening a sealed package, on the other hand, is more dramatic; you have to think “Yes, I am eating these cookies” and that might stay your hand. (Granted, this might be peculiar to me: I used to sneak snacks when I was a kid all the time, and the rule was to never open a package or finish a package, both being particularly easy for my Mom to spot.)

  38. gawieshnot says:

    You guys are completely missing the point here. Yes you pay more per pound, and yes it makes no financial sense. If that is the case for you, don’t buy it. It’s for those of us who don’t have the best will-power in the world. I can’t open a bag of chips without eating at least half of it. I happily pay the extra money for the smaller packs so that I know exactly how much I’m eating.

    Supply and demand. If you don’t want them, don’t buy them. No-ones trying to pull the wool over your eyes on this one.