Background: With other factors such as general diet and insufficient exercise, eating non-nutrient dense snack foods such as potato chips contributes to childhood obesity. We examined whether children consumed fewer calories when offered high-nutrient dense snacks consisting of cheese and vegetables than children who were offered non-nutrient dense snacks (ie, potato chips).
Methods: Two hundred one children (115 girls) entering the third to sixth grades were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 snacking conditions: (1) potato chips only, (2) cheese-only, (3) vegetables only, and (4) cheese and vegetables. Children were allowed to eat snacks freely provided while watching 45-minute TV programs. Satiety was measured before they started eating snacks, in the middle of the study, and 20 minutes after they finished eating the snacks. Parents completed a questionnaire regarding their family environment.
Results: Children consumed 72% fewer calories when eating a combined snack compared with when they were served potato chips, P < .001. Children who ate the combination snack needed significantly fewer calories to achieve satiety than those who ate potato chips, P < .001. The effects of the snack conditions on caloric intake were more pronounced among overweight or obese children (P = .02) and those from low-involvement families (P = .049)
Conclusions: The combination snack of vegetables and cheese can be an effective means for children to reduce caloric intake while snacking. The effect was more pronounced among children who were overweight or obese and children from low-involvement families.