Snack Time Puts Kids at Risk

Childhood obesity linked to bad snacking habits

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Kids can control their health by controlling which button they push at the vending machine. Their snack time selection affects not only their current weight but their future health as well.  

In a recent study on childhood obesity, researchers found that peer pressure plays a big role in choosing what to eat between meals.

Snacking has been linked to the rising rate of childhood obesity because high-calorie snacks are typically the most popular. This could be especially harmful due to the possible effect on kids' future health as an adult.

"Ask your kids how they choose their snacks."

A recent study was conducted to see if children would benefit from learning about health and nutrition in school. Paul Branscum, PhD, RD, an assistant professor within the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the University of Oklahoma, and his team surveyed a sample pool of 167 fourth and fifth graders of various races, ethnicities, and general backgrounds in an attempt to understand typical child snacking habits. The students were all pulled from various places in the Midwest.

The students were asked to record all their snack choices from between meal times over a twenty-four hour period.

The survey revealed that, "Overall, the group averaged 300 calories from high-calorie snacks, such as chips, cookies and candies—almost 17% of their daily caloric intake needs. It also showed children were consuming 45 calories from fruit and vegetable snacks, which is about half a piece of fruit."

The study found that students have more individual control over the snack decisions they make. Additionally, researchers found that outside social factors tended to majorly influence student's opinions, intentions, and decisions regarding healthy snacking.

This study is very important because the findings reflect what seems to be an overall trend of American youth eating poorly; the future health and well being of a person is linked to the level of health early on in their lives.

Knowing how and why children pick their snacks could give educators, parents, the general public, etc. a chance to positively influence children's overall eating habits thus benefiting the health of all Americans.

"Changing a student's attitude toward healthier snacks lies in the ability to show the immediate benefits of a healthier lifestyle," says Branscum. "It's doubtful they will see the long-term benefits that result from fighting obesity, which leads to chronic diseases in adulthood."

This study was published in the May 10 issue of the International Quarterly of Community Health Education.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 9, 2012
Last Updated:
June 26, 2012