News Bites: February 15 Snacks and Lawns

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I'm jumping ahead a little this week as I will be starting off the Presidents' Day weekend a tad early and taking off tomorrow. Love those long weekends!

There were two interesting studies released this week that I thought were worth sharing with you. How to trim calories and get more physical activity are constant areas of research. I am always fascinated with studies that look at behaviors and environments and how they impact what we eat and what we do.

The latest on eating behavior points towards a less is less philosophy. Turns out kids eat more when they are in large groups compared to small groups. (And we adults probably do too). At least that's what researchers found to be true when they observed the snacking behavior of preschoolers. Kids who ate snacks in groups of nine ate almost a third more calories then kids who ate in groups of three. Wow! They call this "social facilitation", we do as others do. When we're with lots of people who are eating, that seems to stimulate even more eating, beyond satiety. Yikes!

So what are the implications? For the kids who aren't eating enough, pile the family and or friends around the dinner table. For the kids that eat too much, avoid eating at fast food places and the like where there are a lot of people and the environment is chaotic. If you want to read the full study click here.

Speaking of environment, one with a lot of green space may promote normal weight in kids according to researchers from Indiana University. In neighborhoods with lots of parks and lawns, children are less likely to be overweight. It seems like a no brainer - more grass, more running around and playing on it. But, hey it isn't so until it's been studied, right? Anyhoo, if you don't have a lawn of your own try to make frequent trips to the local park. Make sure it's a safe one. If you want to read more about this study try going to the Newswise site here www.newswise.com. If you can wait it will be published in the March/April issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Ok, I'm going to go have dinner now with my husband only, and maybe play catch on my front lawn later.....

Have a great Presidents'Day weekend everyone, and make it fruit and veggie filled.
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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