High-Nutrient Dense Snack Cuts Calorie Intake for Children

(HealthDay News) – Giving children a high-nutrient dense (HND) snack of cheese and vegetables reduces calorie intake compared with a non-nutrient dense (NND) snack, according to a study published online Dec. 17 in Pediatrics.

Brian Wansink, PhD, of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and colleagues conducted a study involving 201 children entering third through sixth grade who were allowed to freely eat snacks while watching a 45-minute television program. Children were randomized to one of four snacking conditions: potato chips only; cheese only; vegetables only; and cheese and vegetables. The authors sought to examine whether the children consumed fewer calories when offered a HND snack instead of NND snacks.

Compared with those who ate potato chips, the researchers found that children who ate a combined snack (cheese and vegetables) consumed 72% fewer calories and needed significantly fewer calories to be satiated. These effects were even greater in children who were overweight or obese and those from low-involvement families.

“For parents, eliminating snacking altogether is impractical and, in some cases, can backfire. However, parents could potentially replace some NND snacks with HND snacks such as a cheese and vegetable combination with less fear of backlash than if NND snacks were removed altogether,” the authors write. “The link between HND snacks and satiety can help dieticians craft diets that allow for both choice and enjoyment while also controlling calories.”

The study was funded in part by Bel Brands USA.

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