Recently, I found an interesting research study summary, that got me thinking about the way we (Americans anyway) eat. The headline was “Dessert with meals may help kids eat fewer calories”.
The study was out of Purdue University, and published in the journal Appetite. Researchers measured how the timing of dessert made a difference in how much lunch a group of children ate. They found that the children ate more calories overall when their dessert was served after their lunch was cleared, than when dessert was served with lunch.They also addressed the issue of portion size, by rotating in 50% larger portions of entrée, vegetable and fruit at certain meals, but surprisingly, portion size didn’t impact the total calories eaten.
It seems that the children in this study ate a larger amount of the more nutritious food if they ate dessert last, but the price was more calories consumed overall. Although researchers looked only at group of children, I wonder if the results would be similar in adults. People are born with an innate preference for sweets, and although we are taking baby steps toward eating more healthy fruit, vegetables and whole grains, there is still an awful lot of dessert-like food available, waiting for us like a big shiny prize at the end of our meal. Unfortunately, that’s a big part of the reason we have such a growing obesity problem. Maybe it would be better if we stopped saving the sweet stuff for last, and just ate it with our meals. Maybe we need to focus less on “good-food/bad-food” since we’re going to eat it anyway. Could it be that there is something to the whole moderation thing… Or maybe we should just start buying less of the sweet stuff…
What do you think? Do you think it’s better to have just a little bit of dessert with our meals but eat less of the healthy foods, if it would help us to stay at a healthier weight? Do you think it would help you to eat fewer calories? How do you do moderation?