PARENTS
10/06/2011 05:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2011

Kids Who Eat More Familiar Snack Foods Have Smaller Portions

We already know that adults who become habituated on a snack (like, say, macaroni and cheese) eat less when they're exposed to the same food over and over again than when they have it intermittently. But new research published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the same is true for children and snack foods: the more familiar kids were with a snack, the better able they were to predict how full they would feel after eating, and thus they chose a more appropriate portion size.

Seventy kids participated in the study, using a computer program to rank how full they thought they would get from each of six snack items and how frequently they ate it. Through this method, the researchers also found that if the snack food was unfamiliar to the group 11- and 12-year-olds, they were likely to rely on visual cues -- like volume -- to decide how full they would feel, which led to larger portions.

The key takeaway? Try those afternoon ants-on-a-log every single day. "Presenting children with a wide variety of different snack food products may make it difficult to predict their fullness. Our study suggests that if parents choose to give snack foods to their children, they may wish to stick to the same products,” Dr. Charlotte Hardman, one of the study's authors, told FoodManufacture.co.uk.