How to Choose the Right Snack for Your Kid

By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD

There’s no arguing the increase in snacking behavior among Americans.  While our society once subscribed to eating three meals per day, it’s not uncommon for people to eat two or more snacks in addition to those meals every day.  With an increase in snacking, there could be an increase in total calories consumed, which leads to concerns about the possibility of weight gain – especially among children (1). However, recent research has suggested that snacking alone is not associated with overweight or obesity, even though snacks may provide as much as 20% of a child’s daily calorie intake (2). On the other hand, eating nutrient-rich snacks, particularly in the afternoon, also has the potential to help kids meet their daily vitamin and mineral needs (3).

In a six-month snacking intervention, researchers provided nutritious peanut snacks for overweight Mexican-American adolescent children in three Houston schools (4).  The 257 students received a snack of peanuts and/or peanut butter in addition to 12-weeks of instructor-led nutrition education.  For analysis, the students completed a questionnaire about their consumption, which were each divided into a low and a high adherence group.  In the highest adherence group (those who most consistently ate the peanut snack), children experienced the largest reduction in BMI compared to those in the lowest consumption group.  

Children are going to snack because it’s become an integral part of our eating behavior.  In fact, many children need to snack to fuel after-school activity, such as sports, and to support normal growth.  It can also be advantageous for children to snack as a means to meet their daily nutritional needs.  Making nutritious choices a priority is an important way to support a healthy lifestyle and BMI.  Peanuts and peanut butter can play a part in the development of healthy eating habits.

Try these Naturally Sweet Peanut Chocolate Oat Bars or this Peanut Butter and Blueberry Smoothie as a delicious after-school snack.


  1. Shroff M, et al. Adherence to a snacking dietary pattern and soda intake are related to the development of adiposity: a prospective study in school-age children.  Public Health Nutrition. 2014:17(7);1507-1513. Available at
  2. Gugger C, et al. Nutrient Contribution of Snacking in Americans: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2012.  The FASEB Journal. 2015:29(1). Available at
  3. Wang D, et al. Snacking Among US Children: Patterns Differ by Time of Day. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2016:48(6);369-375.
  4. Moreno J, et al. Benefits of a snacking intervention as part of a school-based obesity intervention for Mexican American children. 2015:6(2). Available at

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