Kate Morland, Nutritionist
Children are going through rapid stages of growth and healthy snacks are a great way to provide them with an energy top-up over the day. However the availability of high sugar and high fat snack foods is growing faster than you can say “stop the junk!” At the same time there is growing pressure to make your kids snacks fun and nutritious! Quick and easy tips are at your fingertips to get you one step ahead.
Children are growing fast! They need fuel throughout the day to help them concentrate in school and be active in the playground. In addition to their three regular meals, kids often require small snacks between meals; however these snacks shouldn’t replace a meal nor provide “empty calories”!
Unfortunately, for too many kids, snacking means a lot of extra “empty calories” from sugar and fat. In addition to increasing the risks of childhood obesity, unhealthy snacks can put your kids at risk for cavities, especially if they are eating foods like fruit snacks or candy.
A recent study in the US looking at changes in food consumption between 1977 and 2006, found that children increased their energy intake from snacks by an average of 168 calories (706kJ) per day. Children aged 2 to 6 year reported the largest increase consuming an additional 181 calories (760 kJ) per day during snack time compared with two decades earlier. Overall snacks provide 27% of U.S. children’s daily energy intake (1).
What your child has to drink is also important. Many kids drink juice, fizzy drinks, or fruit drinks when they have their daily snack, which can greatly increase the amount of calories they are getting at snack time. Instead, limit your child to drinking water, low-fat or fat-free milk, and diluted 100% fruit juice. Add fruit cubes and ice or freeze a bottle overnight so its chilled for the school day.
(1) Piernas, C & Popkin, B (2010). Trends in snacking among U.S. children. Health Affairs. 29 (3): 398-404
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