Ankeny, Iowa, March 22, 2016—April is Soyfoods Month, is the ideal time to help children and adolescents make sensible snack choices as part of a healthy eating pattern. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, obesity has quadrupled in adolescents and more than doubled in children in the past 30 years. Currently, about 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. In light of these findings, snacks have taken on more importance. Globally, a majority of children are consuming two to three snacks per day. According to recent research, young Americans are moving towards consuming three snacks a day, with snacks often accounting for 27 percent of their daily caloric intake.
Making diet and exercise changes can help children and teens maintain a healthy weight, and replacing high fat/ high sugar snacks with more healthful options such as soy is a great place to start. Soyfoods—such as soynuts, edamame and soymilk shakes—are packed with plant-based protein.
Soyfoods are especially good snack choices, given the findings from a recent study conducted by The University of Missouri in collaboration with DuPont Nutrition & Health and published in The Journal of Nutrition. The study, titled “Protein Snacks Improve Appetite and Diet Quality in Teens,” found that consuming protein-rich afternoon snacks containing soy protein led to a reduction in appetite, a delay in subsequent eating, and an improved overall diet quality compared to other snack options. In this study, teens whose usual habit was to consume an afternoon snack were followed on three different occasions in which they consumed a high fat/high sugar snack, a snack higher in protein and low in fat or no snack at all.
As noted in the study conducted at University of Missouri, incorporating a protein-rich afternoon snack improves total daily diet quality. Teens who received the high fat snack or no snack subsequently consumed more snacks high in fat and sugar that evening, as compared with participants who incorporated a protein snack in their daily diet. Also, those who ate protein snacks (versus high fat snacks or no snacks) not only had a lower fat intake but also higher daily protein intake, a key nutrient required for healthy growth and development. The study found that consumption of an afternoon snack reduced the appetite over the course of the afternoon, and a snack made with soy protein led to a greater appetite reduction.
In addition to this study, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans underscore the relationship between nutrition and health. The latest guidelines offer key recommendations, including a shift to healthier food and beverage choices and choosing more nutrient-dense foods. Soyfoods are specifically called out as part of a healthy eating pattern.
Soyfoods provide a healthy foundation for growth and development. Unlike many high fat, high calorie grab-and-go snacks, soy is cholesterol-free, low in saturated fats and is a complete protein offering all of the essential amino acids in the proper amounts needed for healthy growth. One serving of many common soyfoods offers from 7 to 15 grams of protein. Soy snacks are good news for parents and teens alike because soy options are plentiful, affordable and convenient.
Soy ingredients can be swapped into kid-friendly recipes, replacing other components that contribute more fat or lower quality of protein to the nutrition profile of your family’s favorite dishes. Consider using edamame or tofu as a base for dressings and dips, meatless options of hamburger, meatballs or sausage or simply swapping soymilk for other beverages to deliver 8 grams of high-quality protein as well as calcium and vitamin D to help fuel bone development in growing teens. Today there now are higher protein versions of foods commonly consumed by young people, such as pudding.
Recipes from The Soyfoods Council make it easy for teens to move away from high fat/ high sugar snacks to healthier protein snacks. Ideas include the Soynut Butter Pita Pocket made with whole wheat pita, soynut butter, apple slices and apple butter; and roasted Honeyed Soynuts, eaten alone or used in a variety of homemade trail mix recipes. Other choices are drinks such as the Berry Secret Smoothie, made in a blender with lite vanilla soymilk, frozen berries, fresh spinach and a splash of orange juice.
For more information about the study, “Protein Snacks Improve Appetite and Diet Quality in Teens,” visit http://www.danisco.com/about-dupont/news/news-archive/2015/new-study-investigates-strategies-for-improving-obesity-related-outcomes-in-overweight-young-people/