Healthy Snacks Mean Fewer Calories for Children
Researchers at Cornell University found that children are more likely to consume fewer calories if they eat nutrient-dense snacks, such as vegetables and cheese, compared to less nutritious snacks like potato chips. Brian Wansink, PhD, and fellow researchers recently published their study in Pediatrics, showing that children who ate vegetables for snacks needed fewer calories to achieve satiety than those who ate potato chips.
In the study, 201 children were randomly assigned to take one of four different snacks while watching TV: vegetables only, cheese only, potato chips only, or a combination snack of vegetables and cheese. The children were then asked to assess their satiety at three different times: before they ate the snacks, during a break between television programs, and after the TV programs had ended. Their parents were also asked to complete a questionnaire about spending mealtime activities together in a typical week.
The results showed that children who ate vegetables consumed the fewest calories when compared with those who ate potato chips, and those who were offered the combination snack consumed 72% fewer calories than those who ate served potato chips. Vegetable –eaters also needed the fewest calories to achieve satiety, followed by those who ate a combination of vegetables and cheese.
The researchers also noted that overweight and obese children were more likely to need fewer calories to achieve satiety with a combination of cheese and vegetables than kids of normal weight who ate more potato chips. They suggest that offering children a variety of healthy snacks may be a good alternative to restricting consumption of less healthy snack foods.
Boughton, B. Children Eat Fewer Calories When Offered Healthier Snacks. Medscape.