Children and adolescents who eat candy tend to weigh less than their non-consuming counterparts, according to a new study published in Food & Nutrition Research, a peer-reviewed journal.
This is potentially important news given the current state of the childhood obesity epidemic. But lead researcher Carol O'Neil, PhD, MPH, LDN, RD, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, wants to ensure the study is put into perspective.
"The study illustrates that children and adolescents who consume candy are less likely to be overweight or obese," O'Neil said. "However, the results of this study should not be construed as a hall-pass to overindulge. Candy should not replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet; it is a special treat and should be enjoyed in moderation."
Similar to a sister study that focused on adults (published earlier this year in Nutrition Research), this study examined the association of candy consumption on intakes of total energy, fat, and added sugars; diet quality; weight/adiposity parameters; and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in 11,182 U.S. children 2-13 years of age and adolescents 14-18 years of age participating in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Striking a Balance: Candy and Health
While children and adolescent candy consumers in the study did have slightly higher intakes of total energy and added sugars, they were 22 percent and 26 percent, respectively, less likely to be overweight or obese than non-candy consumers—suggesting their ability to successfully navigate the "calories in, calories out," balance over time.
Specific findings include:
"Candy is a fun part of children's lives – as a treat, in celebrations and for holidays," said Alison Bodor, senior vice president of public policy and advocacy, National Confectioners Association. "It's not intended to replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet, but it certainly can provide moments of happiness within the context of a healthy lifestyle."
The article abstract can be accessed here: http://www.foodandnutritionresearch.net/index.php/fnr/article/view/5794
FUNDING DISCLOSURE: The study is a publication of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/ARS) Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the USDA, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement from the U.S. government.
This research project was supported by the USDA Agricultural Research Service through specific cooperative agreement 58-6250-6-003. Partial support was received from the USDA Hatch Project LAB 93951. Partial support was also received from the National Confectioners Association.
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