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Try offering cheese and broccoli for kids' snacks

December 19, 2012|By Mary MacVean
  • Kids will eat fewer calories if offered cheese and vegetables than if they're given chips.
Kids will eat fewer calories if offered cheese and vegetables than if they're… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

Think your children will snack only on chips? Researchers found otherwise – and kids who were served vegetables and cheese ate 72% fewer calories than the kids offered chips.

Moreover, the effects were more pronounced among overweight or obese children, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers from Cornell University randomly sorted 201 children from the Chicago area in grades three to six into four groups: just chips, just cheese, just vegetables, cheese and vegetables. The kids were told the study was about the TV watching they were going to do while they snacked.

“The eating of non-nutrient dense snack foods is considered a major factor contributing to childhood obesity,” the researchers wrote. Not only are kids eating snacks with little nutritional value, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children today eat an average of three snacks a day, compared with one snack 30 years ago.

Cornell’s research looks at some alternatives to parents controlling what their children eat; that control can backfire, the researchers said.

So they allowed the children to eat as much as they chose.

Children given potato chips and Cheetos ate 620 calories. The cheese-only kids ate 200 calories. The veggie-only kids ate 60, and the combination snackers ate 170 calories.

“If children were to eat cheese and vegetables in place of NND snack foods, snacking could be a good source of fiber, protein and calcium,” the researchers wrote.

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