The Mintel research confirms previous findings that show women tend to eat healthier snacks more readily than men. In general over three-quarters (76 per cent) of women are considered 'healthy snackers', as they snack on dried and fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables, compared to just two thirds (66 per cent) of men.
"Women on the whole are more health-conscious than men. They are almost twice as likely as men to be on a diet and are more likely than men to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day," said Claire Hatcher, consumer analyst at Mintel.
But there are signs that industry and government moves to push the '5 a day' message might be paying off with the research showing fruit is Britain's number one snack choice. Almost three in five (57 per cent) adults claim to snack on fruit, a rise in popularity from just half (50 per cent) in 2002.
As many as three in five - 62 per cent - women opt to snack on fruit compared to just over half - 51 per cent - of men. Vegetables also prove to be more popular among women - 13 per cent - than men, 8 per cent.
Again, Mintel shows there are signs that Britain is increasingly moving towards healthier options with the report finding that unhealthy snacks such as crisps and sweet biscuits have dropped in popularity over the past two years.
In 2002 while two in five (40 per cent) adults snacked on crisps, today this figure has slipped to a third (33 per cent). Biscuits show an even greater fall, in 2002 almost 45 per cent of adults snacked on biscuits, today just three in ten (30 per cent) do so.
"Generally there seems to have been an increase in awareness of healthy eating and wellbeing. There has been a tide of media coverage about the dangers of unhealthy eating and the rising levels of obesity in Britain today, which now seem to be having an impact," commented Hatcher.
In the number two snack slot sits chocolate with the Mintel report suggesting that food marketers might want to focus their attention on pushing chocolate products to the male half of society with the findings suggesting men are today's true chocoholics.
On a small poll of 1000 adults in the UK, Mintel found that while half of women still snack on chocolate an even more significant three in five - 58 per cent - of men do the same.
"For years we have always assumed that women are the real chocoholics but this is simply not the case," said Claire Hatcher, consumer analyst at Mintel.
Hatcher suggests that the industry may have assumed this because women will often make a bigger deal out of eating chocolate, "seeing it as a treat while on a diet or while watching their weight. Men on the other hand tend to just tuck in whenever".
Chocolate is one of the few less healthy snacks to have increased in popularity between 2002 and 2004, but this is likely to be because men now snack on chocolate bars more often than ever before, claims Mintel.
In terms of money, Britain spends some £9.2 billion on snacks. "While this may sound a significant amount we have seen that the market has only grown by 5 per cent over the past 5 years, from £8.7 billion in 1999," states the report.
According to Mintel, Londoners are Britain's healthiest snackers with almost eight in 10 (79 per cent) snacking on fresh and dried fruit, nuts and vegetables, the highest of any area in Britain. But consumers in Wales, the South West (67 per cent) and Scotland (69 per cent) fall down the list, coming in as the 'least likely to be 'healthy snackers'.