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Give Your Child Veggie-Cheese Combo for Healthy Snacking

Update Date: Dec 18, 2012 04:51 AM EST

Are you one of those parents who are tired of trying to persuade their child into healthy eating habits? Researchers might have the answer to your problem. A combo-snack of cheese and vegetables could help cut calorie intake in your children, a new Cornell study has found.

The combo-snack meal may contain combined snacks of various varieties of vegetables and cheese and during the experiment, researchers found that this combination led children to eat 72 percent fewer calories while being just as satisfied as those who were served only potato chips.

"Snack combos are fun to eat, and they take longer to eat than potato chips. This is why kids find them satisfying and why they eat so much less," said Brian Wansink, professor of marketing at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.

For the study, the researchers recruited 201 elementary school students and gave them all of the potato chips, vegetables, cheese, or vegetables-and-cheese combo they wanted during an hour of television watching.

The researchers found that children who ate the cheese-vegetable combination had a 72 percent lower calorie intake when compared to children who had chips. The result was even more effective in heavier children. Also, the children who were given vegetable-cheese combos reported being as satisfied as those who were given potato chips, according to a report in Medical Xpress.

"That is really the key take-away-that you can substitute the healthier snack without a total rebellion on the kids' part," co-author Adam Brumberg said. "This was inspired by the White House's 'Let's Move' program to encourage healthier eating," said Wansink.

"There is no magic food or ingredient that will end childhood obesity, but learning to substitute certain foods-such as choosing a combination snack of vegetables and cheese instead of potato chips or sweets-can be an effective tool to induce children to reduce their caloric intake while snacking," Wansink added.

"What's cool is this worked best for the heaviest, pickiest kids. Its fun to eat and it makes snack time last longer."

The paper, "Association of Nutrient-Dense Snack Combinations With Calories and Vegetable Intake," is posted online in the journal Pediatrics.

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