Kids snack habits can last a lifetime

Hey parents, does your children’s school have vending machines? If so, you might want to confiscate any change and loose dollar bills they have as part of your morning send-off routine.

A study in the Journal of School Health by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School looked at the impact of snacks and soft drinks sold in vending machines by analyzing data from a nationally representative sample of 2,309 kids from first through 12th grades.

More than one in five (22 percent) ate vended food with the highest levels among high schoolers. Those kids who consumed snacks and soft drinks from vending machines had lower fiber and higher sugar intakes. They also had low levels of vitamin B and iron compared with kids who abstained.

So there’s no great surprise in the study’s key finding. Those kids who ate vended treats were more likely to develop poor diets, placing them at high risk of obesity and chronic health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Moreover, the study’s lead author Michigan’s Madhuri Kakarala said, “the foods that children are exposed to early on in life influence the pattern for their eating habits as adults.”

That may seem self evident, but as an adult with a vending machine food addiction, this study reminded me of my frequent purchases of chips and pretzels from the machines in my high school. It’s a good reminder to try to limit my daughters’ exposure to this junk.

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