A new study published today in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children who ate a combination snack of cheese and vegetables, as compared to children who ate a snack of potato chips, consumed 72 percent fewer calories overall and also needed significantly fewer calories to achieve the same level of fullness or satisfaction.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children eat about three snacks daily compared to just one snack per day 30 years ago. While parents want to ensure that their children snack healthfully, restricting or limiting children's snacking can backfire. Children whose parents carefully regulate snacking eat more unhealthy snacks when placed in an unregulated environment than children with less restrictive parents.
Researchers Brian Wansink, PhD; Mitsuru Shimizu, PhD; and Adam Brumberg set out to discover whether certain types of snacks would lead children to feel full while consuming fewer calories. Two hundred one students in the third through sixth grade were given 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 after-school cartoons. They were asked about their fullness at the beginning of the experiment, right after they had the snack and 20 minutes later.
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 that 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.
To use these results to help your child eat fewer calories when snacking, try:
• Having more nutritious snacks available instead of eliminating snacking
• Substituting a healthier snack like veggies and cheese in place of chips on a regular basis
• Offering smaller quantities of a variety of healthy snacks (multiple kinds of vegetables or fruit) on a plate. Variety tends to stimulate consumption; increasing the healthy options available can lead to more of them being selected and eaten.
• Encouraging children to be mindful of internal cues and stop eating when they feel full
To view the study, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2011-3895.
For more information regarding this study, visit http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/smartsnacks.html.
This information was compiled by Ridgeview Bariatric & Weight Loss Center. Ridgeview Bariatric & Weight Loss Center is a regional center for bariatric surgery, with a multidisciplinary team and comprehensive program dedicated to successful weight loss and long-term weight management. Working cooperatively with partner organizations, the Bariatric Center provides seamless, quality care utilizing an integrative approach that values the mind, body and spirit. To learn more, visit www.ridgeviewmedical.org/bariatric or call (952) 442-7820.