UK medical school graduate fights obesity one snack at a time



Kentucky has become notorious for high obesity rates, and one UK medical school graduate is looking to change that.

Steve Snodgrass, who graduated from UK’s College of Medicine in 1984, has worked to develop a product he believes is an opportunity for Kentucky to work together to fight obesity and help a lot of people.

Pro-Bites, a convenient, high-protein snack, is intended to give consumers a healthy alternative to the snacks Snodgrass believes make a large contribution to obesity and further health complications.

“First and foremost, I’m a surgeon, and [I] noticed when I was operating how overweight and obese they [my patients] were,” he said. “ … the common thread was that they just seemed to be snacking all the time on unhealthy snacks.”

Snodgrass believes Pro-Bites are the perfect kind of food. The snack contains 120 calories per one-ounce bag, no trans fat or cholesterol and is gluten-free and made of kosher ingredients.

“It’s a great source of protein,” he said, “Without all the fat, calories and sugar.”

For students on the go and away from home for the first time, Pro-Bites is a snack they can rely on to fill their stomachs and give them energy, Snodgrass said.

“We‘re all familiar with the ‘Freshman 15,’ ” he said. “You’re studying more, not as active; you’re … eating a lot of snacks and late at night. You’re used to eating snacks like this, but you’re not used to eating snacks that are so good for you.”

Many people, including students, skip breakfast, which is known as the most important meal of the day, Snodgrass said.  Skipping breakfast can lead to obesity over time, he said.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that 52 percent of Americans skip breakfast,” he said. “And they need protein, iron and Vitamin C. If you eat a bag of French toast Pro-Bites with a cup of orange juice in the morning, you’re at least getting a good start to your day.”

A 2008 study of state obesity rates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 29.8 percent of Kentuckians are considered obese, and a study titled “County-Specific Diabetes and Obesity Prevalence, 2007” found that about 81 percent of counties in the Appalachian region have high rates of diabetes and obesity.

Most students do not realize lax eating habits during their college years can have serious consequences later in life, Snodgrass said.

“Life expectancy can be less than that of (students’) parents because of obesity,” Snodgrass said. “You’re looking at diabetes, heart disease. Obesity is associated with at least 12 different types of cancer, most commonly breast, colon and prostate. … Obesity has dire health consequences that for the most part are preventable.”

Since creating Pro-Bites, Snodgrass has directed his attention toward athletes. The snack is the official snack of USA Volleyball — something he is proud of.

“We had Olympic athletes eating our product,” Snodgrass said. “Since then, I have done many applications of the product. … They’re perfect for athletes because protein builds lean body muscle mass.”

Pro-Bites can be purchased at