Sunday, 19 July 2015

Studious Sunday: Snacking Stacks Up!

Welcome to our brand-new blog series, Studious Sundays! For the rest of market season, we will be breaking down an academic study every second week to learn more about diet, farming, the environment and other topics surrounding the food we eat. We know it's hard, if not impossible, to keep up with studies and news about food while leading a busy lifestyle, so we are making it a little bit easier to stay informed and make simple, meaningful changes in your life. It's the perfect series to enjoy while sipping on a coffee and snacking on your favourite farmers' market fruit or vegetables... which just happens to be the topic of this week's study!

The Study: Fruits and vegetables as a healthier snack throughout the day among families with older children: Findings from a survey of parent–child dyads. Smith et. al, 2015. 

The Breakdown: This study, which took place in the United States, addresses the fact that many children do not consume enough fruit and vegetables in their daily lives. There are many health implications resulting from a lack of fruit and vegetables, including nutrient deficiencies, body weight problems, and increased cancer risk. A small increase in consumption of fruit and vegetables has been shown to significantly improve not only health, but also behavioural issues in children.

In their study, Smith et. al investigate the relationship between snacking on fruit and vegetables, as opposed to eating fruit and vegetables primarily during mealtimes, with overall fruit and vegetable consumption. The authors studied this relationship among 1704 parent-children pairs where the children were between the ages of 9 and 18. 

The parents were asked through a survey how they served fruit and vegetables to their children: during meals (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and/or as snacks (in the morning, during the day, or at night). The children were asked whether they consumed fruit and vegetables the day before, and the number of times they ate fruit or vegetables that day. Data was also collected regarding the Body Mass Index of the participating children. 

A statistical analysis followed where the researchers determined the relationship between the serving method of fruit and vegetables and the frequency those foods were consumed. They took into account factors that would skew the results, like socio-economic factors, gender, and age.  

The Results: Unsurprisingly, the families where the parents reported providing fruit and vegetables both in meals and as snacks had a higher overall consumption of fruit and vegetables among the children surveyed. Families who ate fruit and vegetables only during mealtimes consumed fewer fruits and vegetables overall than those who also served them as snacks.

Interestingly, while the majority of parents who reported providing these healthy snacks were providing their children with fruit, children were more likely to report eating fruits and vegetables when provided with vegetables as snacks in the morning, during the day, and at night. Serving fruit as a snack was unlikely to change the consumption of fruits and vegetables as a whole.

How you can make a change: This study demonstrates that simply switching your family's snacks to fruit or (even more importantly) vegetables can significantly increase your children's consumption of fruit and vegetables overall. It's an easy change that will improve your family's health and, with a little bit of prep, may just save you money in the long run! And remember, children follow their parents' lead, so be sure to put those healthy snacks on your plate as well!

Simple Fruit and Vegetable snacks at SWEFM: Our community farmers' market is a great place to load up on fresh, simple fruit and vegetable snacks for the week. From fresh carrots that are small enough to eat without cutting, to bags of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and fruit cups that can be purchased with a Sprouts token, our market is a great place to load up on the season's best snacks. Here are our top five easy, healthy snacks from our wonderful vendors at SWEFM:

5. Fruit Cups and Fruit Mixed Packs from Steve & Dan's, Red Apple and AIG Produce

4. Fresh Peaches and Nectarines from Steve & Dan's, Red Apple and AIG Produce

3. Mini Cucumbers from S4 Greenhouses and Riverbend Gardens
2. Sweet Shelling Peas from Riverbend Gardens, Dargatz Family Farm and Holden Colony
1. Fresh Baby Carrots from Riverbend Gardens, Dargatz Family Farm and Holden Colony

Thank you for joining us for our first Studious Sunday! If you have any comments or stories about healthy snacking to share, please tweet us @SWEFM_YEG or post on our Facebook page at You can find this week's study online here.

Citation: Smith, T.M., Pinard, C.A., Shanks, C.M., Wethington, H., Blanck, H.M., and Yaroch, A.L. 2015. Fruits and vegetables as a healthier snack throughout the day among families with older children: Findings from a survey of parent-child dyads. Eating Behaviors (17) pp. 136-139. DOI:  10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.01.006

No comments:

Post a Comment