Cheesy Snacks Recommended for Fighting Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity
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Snacking contributes heavily to the problem of childhood obesity. According to experts, children today snack an average of 3 times per day in comparison to 1 time per day with children from 30 years ago. However, it’s not just the number of times a day a child snacks that is the problem, but the type of snacks eaten - in particular, fat-laden snacks like potato chips that do little to fill a growing body as well as appetite.

In a recent study published online in the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers from the Food and Brand Laboratory at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, designed an experiment to see whether children would consume fewer calories with high-nutrient dense snacks consisting of cheese and vegetables in comparison to children offered non-nutrient dense snacks.

The study involved 102 third through sixth grade children who were randomly divided into 4 groups consisting of 4 snacking environments:

1. Potato chips only
2. Cheese only
3. Vegetables only
4. Cheese plus vegetables

During the snacking study the children were allowed to snack as they pleased while watching 2 forty-five minute long TV programs. Before, during and after the TV programs, the children were each evaluated as to how full they felt while snacking.

What the researchers found was that the group that ate cheese plus vegetables as a snack:

• Consumed 72% fewer calories than the group that ate potato chips only.
• Needed significantly fewer calories to achieve satiety than those who ate potato chips.

Furthermore, children who were overweight or obese and came from homes with little family involvement (i.e. spent less time eating meals together or interacting with each other while eating), demonstrated the greatest amount of reduced caloric intake when eating cheese plus vegetables in comparison to eating potato chips alone.

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The conclusion reached by the authors of the study was that a combination snack consisting of vegetables and cheese can be an effective means to reduce the caloric intake of children during snacking. And, that the benefit achieved of eating cheese with vegetables is more pronounced among children who are either overweight or obese and from low-involvement families.

The Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University offers these recommendations to help your child eat fewer calories when snacking:

• 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.

For an informative article about snacking and childhood obesity, follow this link to an article titled “The Eight Ways We Are Making Our Children Fat.”

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

References:

“Association of Nutrient-Dense Snack Combinations with Calories and Vegetable Intake” Pediatrics; Published online December 17, 2012; Wansink, B., Shimizu, M., & Brumberg, A.

Cornell University Food and Brand Laboratory: Filling Up Kids on Fewer Calories

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