Like most teens, 14 year old Danny Gwirtz has a hearty appetite, but he didn’t always make healthy choices when it came time to eat. “I always used to ask for unhealthy snacks instead of healthier ones,” says Danny.
Today, Danny knows better. He’s lost 20 pounds and is now testing out an innovative new website to help him keep it off. Danny and his mom go to www.snackwise.org where an online calculator rates their snack foods. By simply typing in information from the label, snacks fall into three categories: red – choose rarely, yellow – choose occasionally, and green – the best choice.
“I don’t always know just by looking, and it’s kind of helpful to get on the computer and see ‘wow, that’s not really a good choice after all,’” says Barb Gwirtz, Danny’s mom.
A team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital developed the Snackwise system because not all snacks are created equal. For example, 3 similar bags of chips can each fall into a different category. But how would you know? Experts say it’s not always about just counting fat and calories.
“The best choices that you would find would be things that contain 10% or more of the daily value of things like calcium, iron, vitamin A and C,” says Jan Ritter, Registered Dietician with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Keeping track of all that information can be confusing, which is why www.snackwise.org was designed to do it for you.
Dr. Robert Murray, Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says it’s information some parents have gone too long without. “Unfortunately, snack foods make up about a third of all calories that kids take in. For that reason, these are very important decisions that we’re making without thinking about it,” says Murray. You can check out the free online calculator at www.snackwise.org.