A new computer program rates snack foods according to their nutritional components, enabling kids to make healthier choices from school vending machines, according to researchers.
The software, known as the Snackwise Nutrition Rating System, assigns points to snack foods using 10 values posted on the nutritional label of food packaging, such as fat, sugar, fiber and vitamins. Each food is then colour-coded red (eat rarely), yellow (eat occasionally) or green (eat often) with increasing nutritional value.
Kids may make different choices about snacks if they know more about what's healthy to eat on a regular basis. Some students may initially grumble and groan if schools provide only "green" snacks, but research shows that they will eventually give in.
Students might be surprised to learn that baked potato chips receive a yellow, not a green, rating. Although they are low in fat and calories, they do not add anything to a kid's diet, such as fiber or nutrients, making them a less than ideal choice.
The program also gives a yellow rating to regular-sized chocolate bars, because they are "moderately okay" when not sold in the king-sized versions.
The program costs $100 for each school district and is available at www.snackwise.org
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