More research on child nutrition has come down the pipe, and with high obesity rates and cardiovascular illness, we really cannot get enough.

This time, the focus is on foods that young people are consuming as their primary sources of energy.

Medical News Today passed along information from the research. Once again, culprits are foods with lots of calories and sugar, and little else:

"Researchers report in an article published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that over half of all calories consumed by American kids are empty calories. The main reason is the excess consumption of high-calorie drinks and junk food."

The research, published last month, found that among children ages 2 to 18, almost 40% of the energy they consumed were "empty calories." The authors found that "half of empty calories came from six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk."

The authors also concluded that the identification of such foods could help guide willing food companies on how to change the way they make their products, as well as the ingredients they include. The researchers also point out that, for an adequate solution, such foods should be reduced in the population's food supply.

Putting the Research Into Practice: Tips for Parents

The tenet of this research is not new: many children are not eating healthy. It is not necessarily because they can't; it is because they do not know how, or are not provided with nutritious snacks and foods from a young age.

Fellow parents: We're all busy, and our kids take up a lot of time. It is tempting to let them fill up with something easy (let's face it: sometimes it's going to happen). However, teach your kids to use the right foods for simple, nutritious snacks on a regular basis and as staple part of their diet. Rather than relying on sodas, candies, or refined carbohydrates, make healthy snacks the norm:

  • Whole grain crackers with cheese or peanut butter (includes protein, and complex carbohydrates)
  • Nuts (many contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and good fats)
  • Red grapes or purple Concord grapes (quick, easy, and filled with antioxidants)
  • Dried fruits (some are high in fiber, iron, and potassium). Note: These tend to have more sugar than fresh fruit. Only a ¼ cup of dried fruit is needed to meet a standard serving size.
  • Celery sticks with raisins and peanut butter (better known as "ants on a log")

Teach your children a life-long skill: how to eat well by filling up on the healthy stuff. Here's to our children's health!

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