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Kids From Low-Income Groups Could Enhance Their Nutrition By Choosing Better After School Snacks

The latest study by the UC Davis researchers states that children from the lower income groups can increase their nutrition values by choosing better after school snacks. //

The study by the UC Davis team, which is being published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health, has bought to light that the lunches offered in school and the vending machines aren't the only places that need to be changed in order to improve the nutrition of the students. The researchers have explained that moderate changes in the kinds of snacks that are being offered at after-school programs would also have a considerable positive impact on children's diets.

The study suggests that a healthy snack menu in an after-school program can help low-income children — those at highest risk of obesity — consume more fruit and less saturated fat, said lead author Diana Cassady, an assistant professor of public health sciences at UC Davis.

'Even though school food programs have very limited budgets, this study suggests that with leadership and a little bit of political will, food service for kids really can be improved,' Cassady said.

The UC Davis researchers focused on an after-school program called Students Today Achieving Results for Tomorrow, which serves some 8,000 low-income children from 44 public elementary schools in Sacramento, Elk Grove and Rio Linda.

In 2002, START changed its snack vendor and its menu in an effort to offer more fruits and vegetables, boost nutrition and save money. Kids started receiving more fresh fruit, tastier crackers, more juices and fewer dairy products. For instance, Friday's snack of a brownie and milk was replaced with animal crackers and grape juice; Wednesday's snack of a peach cup and graham crackers was replaced with peanut butter crackers and an apple.

Cassady and her colleagues compared the nutritional content of the new menu of 17 snacks with that of the old menu
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