Fruit trumps cookies … maybe

Fruit is now the No. 1 one snack item parents give to children under the age of six, leading researchers to believe that parents are taking childhood nutrition more seriously, according to a survey by NPD Group.   New data shows that cookies, which held the top spot the last time snack data was collected in 1987, are now ranked No. 2. Findings were based on two-week long food and beverage journals filled out by mothers across the country. From 1985 to 1987, 500 Moms participated while 600 took part in the 2005-2007 survey. Carbonated soft drinks held the No. 6 spot in popularity in 1987, but didn't make the top 10 this year. Cake has also dropped off the list. Meanwhile popcorn, which did not appear on the list in 1987, is now ranked No. 6. It is perceived as a whole-grain snack. "We are very encouraged by these new, independent survey results," says Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters health initiative. "This seems to indicate Fruits & Veggies-More Matters messages are being heard and put into action by Moms across the nation."   According to a survey recently conducted by PBH, the perception of fruits and vegetables as being healthy foods continues to grow year after year. Ninety four percent of Moms surveyed reportedly agreed with the statement, "A diet that includes fruits and vegetables may help children avoid obesity." Moms also reported that it was easier for them to include fruit as a snack rather than at other times of the day. These statistics may help explain the increased popularity of fruit as a snack.   That may be good news to nutritionists, but I always take mom surveys with a grain of salt. After all, what mom will admit to giving her kids a less  healthy snack?