Ratings score on kids' snacks

March 2, 2008 10:01:38 AM PST
Video games have them, so do movies and music. Should kids' snacks be rated? There's a children's hospital that's done just that.

Like most teenagers, 14-year-old Danny Gwirtz has a hearty appetite - but he didn't always make the best food choices.

He remembers, "I always used to ask for unhealthy snacks, instead of healthier ones."

Today, Danny know better - he's lost 20 pounds, and is now testing an innovative website to help him keep it off.

Danny and his mom go to Snackwise-dot-org - where an online calculator rates food.

By simply typing in information from the label, snacks fall into one of three categories - red snacks should be chosen rarely - snacks in yellow are better - but snacks in green are the best option.

Barb Gwirtz, Danny's mom, says "I don't always know just by looking. It's kind of helpful to get on the computer and see - Wow! That's not really a good choice."

A team at Nationwide Children's Hospital developed the Snackwise System, to help parents & kids navigate through the "snack jungle."

For example, these three chips fall into 3 different categories, and one of these cookies is a better choice than the other.

But how would you know?

Experts, like dietitian, Jan Ritter, say it's not always just about counting calories.

She makes these suggestions, "The best choices that you would find would be things that contain 10 per cent or more of the daily value of things like calcium, iron, vitamin A, and C."

Keeping track of all that can be confusing, which is why this site was designed to do it for you.

Doctor Robert Murray says parents really need information like this.

"Unfortunately, snack foods make up about a third of all the calories that kids take in, and for that reason, they are very important decisions that we're making without thinking about it, " he says.

The hospital has a free online calculator, or for a small subscription fee, you can access a database with ratings on more than a hundred snacks.