Is That Really a Healthy Snack?
Watch Out for Unhealthy Snacks
By Deborah Bohn
You want your child to eat well, but how do you know if you're feeding her nutritious foods between meals?
A 2005 USDA study reveals that over 95 percent of children in the United States have at least one snack every day. That's good because snacks aren't only fun, they're actually necessary for young bodies. Ever notice how kids never stop moving? Children usually expend more energy than adults, yet they have smaller stomachs, so three square meals a day isn't the best option for them. They need to refuel with healthy snacks or they'll wind up mentally spaced out or just plain crabby.
With all the so-called whole-grain, fruit-filled, and vitamin-infused options available, it should be easy to hand over a healthy snack to a hungry kiddo, right? Not so fast. Some of the most popular kids' snacks in America rate pretty low on the nutrition scale. Despite their healthy reputations, many of these products are actually full-fledged desserts with artificial colors to make them attractive to kids or preservatives that allow them to remain on pantry shelves for weeks without refrigeration. Most are loaded with sugar, sodium, fat, additives, and high fructose corn syrup. The big problem with high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS) is that it's a highly concentrated form of liquid sugar. In fact, the amount of high fructose corn syrup found in a 12-ounce can of soda translates to 13 teaspoons of table sugar!
While the following foods aren't outright harmful, they're best used in moderation and considered a treat rather than a mini-meal required to keep a growing kid energized until dinner rolls around.