Child Snacking and Obesity

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Should I limit my child's snacking?

David Ludwig, MD
Snacking is really not a problem. In fact, snacking can be very healthful. The problem is the nature of the snacks that children are eating today. In fact, the research suggests that the more frequently we eat, the healthier we are and the lower body weight typically is. So people who eat many small meals are usually thinner than people who eat a few big meals. But almost every prepared snack that a kid can get these days, from 100 calorie packs to goldfish, are highly processed carbohydrate that is rapidly digested, raising blood sugar, leading to a crash a few hours later that then stimulates hunger and over eating. These are so called high glycemic foods. So more healthful snacks will include some kind of less processed carbohydrate— a fruit, a vegetable, a whole grain, and a source of some protein and a healthy fat. So for example, an apple and a piece of cheese, or a whole grain cracker and a little bit of peanut butter.