Children satiated by healthy snacks

By Amy Wimmer Schwarb • Published: March 25th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Any frazzled parent knows the mantra of growing children: “I’m hungry.”

And even though it’s not going to earn any parenting accolades, reaching for a fatty, salty snack can be the response guaranteed to satiate a child’s never-waning appetite. But the results of a new study suggest that a healthier snack can be not only lower in calories, but also just as likely to satisfy.

A Cornell University study tested 200 elementary school students divided into several groups that were given different types of snacks. Some ate chips, some vegetables, some cheese, and some a combination of cheese and vegetables. And all the kids were invited to enjoy their snacks while watching an hour of TV.

The result: The children who munched on the cheese-and-veggie combo ate 72 percent fewer calories than those who snacked on potato chips. The cheese-and-veggie kids also reported satisfaction rates as high as children who munched chips.

Was it the crunch of the vegetables that made them so satisfying? The fun of eating them with the cheese? Or maybe that the veggies and cheese took longer to eat than potato chips?

Perhaps. But the important message of the study is that eating healthier, low-calorie foods can satisfy a child’s craving for snacks.

This study isn’t the only one trying to crack the code of how to get children to eat their vegetables.

Another study found that 8- to 11-year-olds ate about one-third more vegetables when they were given creative marketing names such as “X-Ray Carrots” and “Power Punch Broccoli.”

And recent research in Spain calculated that children were 80 percent more likely to eat their vegetables when allowed to choose their own.

So now that we know more answers to the age-old question of how to get children to eat their vegetables, the new question is: Can parents learn how to reach for something healthy and not just something convenient?