Combo-snack of cheese and vegetables cut kids calories

December 29, 2012 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Combo-snack of cheese and vegetables cut kids calories

Kids given a combination of cheese and vegetables will eat only about a quarter as many calories as those given potato chips, according to a new study from Cornell University.

The findings may not be surprising, but they suggest that swapping out potato chips for cheese or vegetables then might help reduce the amount of calories kids eat at snack time, the researchers say. "If you put into the rotation (healthier snacks) you can have a significant impact on weekly caloric intake," he suggested.

The study involved 183 children in grades 3 though 6. Each of the kids was put in a room to watch TV and eat a snack: 45 kids were given potato chips, 36 were offered cheese, 59 were given raw vegetables and 43 were given cheese and vegetables.

After 45 minutes the researchers measured how much food the children had eaten.

They found that kids in the chip group ate by far the most calories, 620 on average.

Kids ate 200 calories of cheese, 60 calories of vegetables and 170 calories of the combination cheese-and-vegetables snack.

Children tend to eat the foods they like - and one measure of preference is the amount eaten. So chips and cheese beat raw vegetables hands down.

The findings might be obvious, but they also reveal that kids felt full after eating fewer calories of the cheese and vegetables than after eating the potato chips.

In this study, the kids ate until they felt full, and for the potato chip group that meant eating a lot more calories than the cheese-and-veggies group.

To put those 600 potato chip calories into perspective, a moderately active eight-year-old boy should eat about 1400 to 1600 calories a day.

The researchers stated that restricting kids' diets to only the healthiest of foods might not be the right approach. For some families, restricting snacks to only the healthiest ones is not even possible.

"The most effective way, we believe, is to put (healthy snacks) in the rotation. Don't take away everything that they love, but reduce calories over the week," the researcher said.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, online December 17, 2012.

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