Shacks for Kids

Menstuff® has compiled the following information about healthy snacking for kids.

Chips Ahoy! and Oreo cookies, high in fat, topped the list of the worst snacks, followed by Pepsis and Coca-Colas, artificial fruit juices, Hostess snack cakes, and Keebler Club & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers. The group also deemed candy bars like Kit Kat Big Kat and Snickers as bad snacks, along with Starburst Fruit Chews.

Although milk would seem to be a healthy alternative to soda, the center noted that chocolate whole milk and flavored whole milk are high in saturated fat.

Margo Wootan, the center's nutrition director, said schools should substitute for the unhealthy snacks nutritious items such as unsweetened applesauce, fruit cups, Nestle Nesquik fat-free chocolate milk, lowfat and fat-free milk, bottled water, 100 percent orange juice, traditional Chex Mix, Nature Valley crunchy granola bars and raisins.

Children should cut back on sweet and fatty food to help curb the nation's growing obesity problem and to prevent development of diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses associated with being overweight, Wootan said.

Fifteen percent of children age 6 to 19 are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wootan noted that children can easily take in hundreds of calories in one product. A 20-ounce bottle of cola alone, for example, contains 250 calories.

"Although physical activity is critically important to children's health and to maintaining a healthy weight, a 110-pound child would have to bike for 1 hour and 15 minutes to burn off a 20-ounce Coke," Wootan said.

She said parents should encourage children to reach for a 20-ounce bottle of 100 percent orange juice instead of soda because it offers nutrients like Vitamin C and some contain calcium.

Still, a table put together by the group acknowledged that the orange juice contains 25 more calories than Coke. Even a 20-ounce glass of 1 percent lowfat milk has 5 more calories.

The food industry responded with assertions that there's room in everyone's diet for all foods, including sweets.

"There are no good foods and bad foods," said Stephanie Childs, a spokeswoman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America.

CSPI has repeatedly called for Congress to give the Agriculture Department authority to restrict food sold in school vending machines and school cafeteria lines.

The industry opposes the idea on the ground that decisions about what children eat outside the cafeteria should rest with school boards and parents.

Childs warned that government restrictions would lead children to go to convenience stores for snacks. Bush administration officials have echoed those arguments.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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