How to make kids snack healthfully
One of the many factors leading to childhood obesity is increased snacking, but restricting or limiting it can backfire, say researchers.
Children in homes where parents carefully regulate snacking were found to eat more unhealthy snacks in an unregulated environment than children with less restrictive parents.
Researchers suggest that parents can ensure that their children eat fewer calories when snacking by giving them more nutritious snacks such as veggies and cheese in place of chips on a regular basis, or offering them smaller quantities of a variety of healthy snacks (multiple kinds of vegetables or fruit) on a plate.
Researchers Brian Wansink, Ph.D., Mitsuru Shimizu, Ph.D., and Adam Brumberg set out to discover whether certain types of snacks would lead children to feel full while consuming fewer calories.
201 students in the third through sixth grade were given either a plate of potato chips, a plate of vegetables, a plate of cheese, or a plate of vegetables and cheese while watching some of their favorite afterschool cartoons.
They were asked about their fullness at the beginning of the experiment, after watching one episode of a cartoon, and again after watching a second episode of a cartoon.
Children who ate the vegetable and cheese snack plate needed significantly fewer calories than the children who ate the plate of potato chips to achieve satiety.
Further, children from low-involvement families (families which spent less time eating meals together or interacting with each other while eating) ate more potato chips than other children when given potato chips to snack on.
However, children from low-involvement families and overweight children showed the greatest reduction in the amount of calories consumed when eating the cheese and vegetable snack instead of potato chips.
Overweight and obese children ate 76 percent fewer calories when they were given the cheese and vegetable snack while other children averaged a 60 percent reduction in calories eaten.
Both groups reported being as full when eating the Cheese and veggie snack as they did when eating chips.