Here is an interesting and important study. From Pediatrics:
Two hundred one children (115 girls) entering the third to sixth grades were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 snacking conditions: (1) potato chips only, (2) cheese-only, (3) vegetables only, and (4) cheese and vegetables. Children were allowed to eat snacks freely provided while watching 45-minute TV programs. Satiety was measured before they started eating snacks, in the middle of the study, and 20 minutes after they finished eating the snacks.
Brunilda Nazario, MD at WebMD takes it from there:
[C]hildren who were given cheese and vegetables as a snack ate 72% fewer calories than children who snacked on potato chips, and this effect was even more pronounced among kids who were overweight or obese.
What’s more, these kids needed fewer calories to feel full than those who ate chips.
Snacks are dietary necessities for almost all children, especially when they go to school. After kindergarten and first grade, the opportunity to snack between meals is eliminated during the school day. An after-school snack is pretty much mandatory, with choices of nutrient-dense foods most important. It’s interesting that of the four study groups, the group with the combination snack (cheese and vegetables) did better than the vegetable-only group. The reason is the protein cheese provides:
Connie Diekman, RD, says the new findings make sense. She is the director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. “Protein and carbohydrate help elevate blood sugar while sustaining the elevation of the blood sugar, thus aiding [fullness], versus potato chips alone,” she says. In addition, the fiber in the vegetables likely added to the feeling of fullness.
So what are some solid snacking choices for kids? Diekman suggests:
- Cheese and fruit
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers
- Yogurt and granola
- Hummus and veggies
- Peanut, sunflower, or almond nut butter with fruit or whole-grain crackers
What’s missing from this list? Cookies and cakes (my generation snacked on Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s — those days should be long gone); sugary cereals; pretzels and potato chips; candy; soda and juice. All are high in sugar and low in nutrients.
Portion-control is also an important variable, and I don’t know how that was controlled in this study. Nevertheless, it seems that everyday we learn more and more about how to stop and even reverse this epidemic of childhood obesity.
Read article from WebMD here.
Read abstract from Pediatrics here.