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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Reducing Childhood Obesity

4 Top Healthy Snacks

A mother cutting oranges for a snack

Your child might enjoy trying the following foods:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Small amounts of dried fruits, such as raisins, apple rings, or apricots
  • Fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, cucumber, zucchini, or tomatoes
  • Low-sugar, whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk

Foods that are small, round, sticky, or hard to chew—such as raisins, whole grapes, hard vegetables, hard chunks of cheese, nuts, seeds, and popcorn—can cause choking in children under age 4. You can still prepare some of these foods for young children by cutting grapes into small pieces and cooking and cutting up vegetables. Always watch your toddler during meals and snacks.

—Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

NIH Research to Results

Most of the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers sponsor obesity and healthy weight research. Among their recent findings:

  • Children who are obese are far more likely to develop stiffer large arteries than children who are leaner, according to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Stiff arteries are associated with atherosclerosis, a condition in which blood vessels become clogged and one that usually doesn't occur until adulthood. Exercise and lower body mass can improve the condition, according to the study.
  • Two recent studies published in the journal Pediatrics show that minority children have higher levels of obesity than their white counterparts. They also show more signs of inflammation, which in adults is associated with heart disease. Twenty percent of black and Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 are obese. Fifteen percent of white children are obese, according to the study. Factors such as infant eating and sleeping habits, mothers who smoke during pregnancy, and a dozen other circumstances were examined as a part of the study. This research was funded by NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
  • Researchers are looking at whether or not the risks for childhood obesity could actually start before birth. The subject needs more rigorous testing, but suggests that earlier interventions among infants and toddlers who become obese need to be a part of infant care. The research was funded by NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Spring / Summer 2010 Issue: Volume 5 Number 2 Page 8