Over a third of U.S. adults are clinically obese. This group is at a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and many other health complications. According to the Center for Disease Control, half of this group was diagnosed as overweight or obese as early as childhood. Unfortunately, childhood obesity is a growing problem due to increasing trends of unhealthy snacking and declines in healthy principal meals.

The solution to obesity in children is not dieting.

“Children shouldn’t go without food for more than four hours. They need three core meals and two healthy snack choices each day in order to grow,” Sweeney said. Healthy snacking is important to the metabolism of growing children and it also emphasizes smart choices they can make throughout their lives.

Sweeney encourages parents to use the table below to help their children prepare snacks that are both enjoyable and nutritious. Balanced 200-calorie snacks are made up of one item from each column. Children can help prepare the snacks at the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge in a “snack box” that they can access after school.

Protein / Dairy

Grain ≥ 3g Fiber, ≤ 10g Sugar

Fruit / Vegetable

Nuts: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, etc. (1 handful)

Whole Grain Crackers (1 handful)

Fresh Fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, banana, etc.

Low-fat Yogurt: 4 ounce container

Whole grain cereal (1 handful)

Fresh Vegetables: sliced cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, etc.

Low-fat Cheese (0.75 ounce stick)

Whole Grain Bread (1 slice)

Dried Fruits (raisins, apricots, cranberries)

Fat-free Milk (8 ounces)

Oatmeal (½ cup)

Broth-based soup (Veggie, Bean)

Low-fat Cottage Cheese (4 ounces)

Whole Grain Tortilla Chips (1 handful)

Salsa or Guacamole (¼ cup)

Peanut Butter or Sunbutter®

Rice Cakes (2)

Salad greens

Beans (Hummus ¼ cup, cooked beans ½ cup)

Corn or Whole Wheat Tortillas (1)

Bean, fruit or vegetable salads (½ cup)

Lean meats (tuna, chicken, turkey) or meat substitutes (soy)

Gluten-free products

Frozen vegetables or fruit


Editor’s Note: UofL Today reprints To Your health from the “ULP Insider” newsletter. Read the entire June issue (opens as a PDF document).