Healthy Ingredients = Fewer Calories in Kids

by Diane Lofshult on Jul 01, 2008

Food for Thought

Who says organic food isn’t worth the extra cost? A new study suggests that buying healthier but costlier ingredients may be the better deal in the long run. Replacing less healthy ingredients with more wholesome substitutes is not only more nutritious; it also reduces your kids’ daily caloric intake, according to a study presented last October at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.

Researchers funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation served breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks to 26 children (ages 3–5) twice a week for 2 consecutive weeks. During the second week, however, the researchers prepared the snacks using lower-fat ingredients and more fruits and vegetables. Without changing the menu at all, they substituted healthy ingredients—for example, using 1% milk instead of whole milk and “hiding” veggie purées in pasta sauce.

During the second week, the children consumed about 400 fewer calories each day and—perhaps more important—did not compensate by eating more later in the day or the following day. According to a press release on the foundation’s website, “the findings indicate that healthy substitutions can significantly reduce caloric intake.” The researchers also noted that the children appeared to enjoy the healthier meals as much as the ones served the first week.

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at