Fewer, Healthier Snacks Are Better For Children
December 18, 2012

Substituting Veggies For Chips Could Help Your Child Lose Weight

[ Watch the Video: Combo Snack of Cheese and Veggies As Alternative ]

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Switching up cookies for cheese and vegetables might be the key to fighting the growing childhood obesity trend in America.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 32 percent of the U.S. children are overweight or obese.

Children eat an average of around three snacks a day, and other studies have shown that simply taking away the snacking habit can backfire. Those kids in homes where parents regulate snacking foods were found to eat more unhealthy snacks than children in an unregulated environment with less restrictive parents.

Researchers set out to find whether certain types of snacks would lead to children feeling full while consuming fewer calories. They involved 201 students in the third through sixth grade, who were given either a plate of potato chips, a plate of vegetables, a plate of cheese, or a plate of veggies and cheese.

The students were asked about their fullness at the beginning of the experiment, after watching an episode of a cartoon, and again after watching a second episode of a cartoon.

The children who ate the vegetable and cheese snack plate needed significantly fewer calories to be satisfied than the children who ate the plate of potato chips. Children from low-involvement families ate more potato chips than other children who were given potato chips.

The team also found that children from low-involvement families and overweight children showed the greatest reduction in the amount of calories consumed when eating the cheese and vegetable plate instead of potato chips.

Overweight children ate 75 percent fewer calories when they were given the cheese and vegetable snack while other children averaged a 60 percent reduction.

With the results, the team says parents can help their child eat fewer calories by offering more nutritious snacks, as opposed to eliminating snacks.

They also suggest parents substitute a healthier snack like veggies and cheese in place of chips on a regular basis. Parents should also offer smaller quantities of a variety of healthy snacks on a plate. By increasing the health options available, more of them are being eaten, according to the researchers.