Sensible, nutritious, snacking twice a day combined with three small meals can form a healthy, balanced diet, claims Kellogg's Smarter Snacking Report published earlier this month.
About 96 per cent of UK adults admit snacking in secret but eating three meals and two snacks a day is nothing to be ashamed of, "if managed correctly it can help maintain weight and boost mood and energy," according to the report.
Eating main meals plus snacks may help to control hunger so that we don't overeat at meal times; a problem affecting 55 per cent of UK adults, it continues.
Eating small meals and regular snacks can put us in a better mood and enhance mental performance, with 71 per cent of people feeling they would be more productive if they had two snack breaks a day, said Kellogg's.
Support for the claim that sensible meals and snacking can help maintain weight and help boost mood and energy, came from Anne Sidnell, nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation.
She told BakeryandSnacks.com that it was particularly important for toddlers to snack throughout the day because it was difficult for them to get enough nutrients at meal times. But as we get older the need to snack isn't so pronounced and adults could get by on what they eat at meal times.
However if people prefer lighter meals, nutritious snacking this can be a healthy option, she said. Two snacks, one mid morning and one mid afternoon, could help people control hunger and not overeat at meal times.
The key to good health is maintaining a moderate total daily calorie intake of 2000 calories a day for the average adult. The quality of the snack was also important. For example, fruit is an ideal way to introduce more vitamins.
Kellogg's advocates "smarter snacking", making snacks count towards dietary recommended intakes of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
The report also contained a map of the UK's snacking habits revealing that Birmingham is the UK's "Snacking Capital" where 76 per cent of people grab a snack when hunger strikes - although 37 per cent said they are likely to opt for fruit.
Norwich is the place where most people snack out of boredom.
Over half of Londoners think that snacking can boost health and fitness and help aid weight loss.
The report contains other snacking facts and figures, such as sweet tasting chocolate remains the most popular snack in the UK (34 per cent of consumers say they snack on it) - but most people said they just grab what is available.
Fifty seven per cent of Brits said they believe snacking will not boost health and fitness or aid weight loss - though in the 25-34 year olds the opposing view held fat greater sway.
The report was compiled from two surveys conducted by Fly Research among 1000 adults in the UK in November 2007 and February 2008, two other sources, and the company's nutritionists.