The number of overweight and obese children has tripled in the last two decades and many experts suggest that it may not be what kids are eating at meals--but their snacks!--that's a major culprit in the startling rise in overweight among our nation's youngest eaters.
There's no time like the present to start serving up healthier snacks for your children to help ensure that they are well fed-not over-fed. Even part of the White House's plan for reversing childhood obesity in the next decade targets excessive snacking as an area that parents and caregivers need to improve upon.
Kids' snack stats are startling. On average, children snack almost three times a day. Thirty years ago, children had one snack a day. What's more, the snacks are now higher in calories and lower in nutrition than what they used to be. Between-meal eats now account for 27 percent of children's overall calories-or 572-each day.
Rules for healthy kid-friendly snacks:
- One per day is fine for most children; (generally afternoon before dinner)
- Snacks should provide no more than 150 calories
- Snacks should come from the dairy, protein or fruit & veggie food group
- If it's a grain-based snack, it should be made from whole grains
- Any fresh fruit, fruit packed in its own juice
- Applesauce with no added sugar
- Dried fruit
- Fruit flavored yogurt
- Whole-wheat waffle with fresh fruit
- Hard-boiled egg
- Low-fat cheese with whole wheat cracker
- Cheese and cherry tomato kebobs
- Baby veggies with low-fat dressing
- Tuna salad on a mini dinner roll
- Low-fat chocolate milk, pudding or yogurt
- In-shell pistachios
- Whole wheat crackers with peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Air-popped popcorn
Julie Upton is a registered dietitian and communications expert specializing in nutrition, fitness and health. As a media resource for the American Dietetic Association, Upton is interviewed and quoted in over 200 articles annually, and is a frequent guest on national and local television and radio stations. She has been interviewed on the NBC Today Show, CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight.
Ms. Upton is also a nationally recognized journalist who has written thousands of articles for national newspapers, magazines and e-media including The New York Times, Prevention, Shape, Health, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Mens Journal.
She is co-author of "Energy to Burn: The Ultimate Food and Nutrition Guide to Fuel Your Active LIfe" (Wiley 2009). Upton writes a weekly nutrition and health blog at www.health.com and www.eatlikeanrd.com and is a contributing editor at Health magazine.
Her athletic accomplishments are many: Upton is a competitive swimmer, cyclist, marathon runner and triathlete. She has completed events such as the Swim Around Manhattan Island, New York City Marathon and The Boston Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.
Ms. Upton attended the University of Michigan and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from Michigan State University. She completed her dietetic internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital.
She holds a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in nutrition.
For more information, visit www.julieupton.com.
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