Obesity Prevention

Peanuts and Peanut Butter May Hold the Key to Preventing Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. A study conducted from 2015-2016 showed that nearly 1 in 5 school age children (ages 6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity.

Childhood obesity can lead to a number of health risks in both the near and long term, including increased chance of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones and asthma.

A 2015 USDA-funded study by investigators at Baylor College of Medicine, University of Houston, and Texas Women’s University showed how peanuts and peanut butter may hold the key to preventing obesity.

Study Result Highlights:

  • High-risk Mexican-American adolescents who consistently consumed a daily snack of peanuts or peanut butter significantly decreased their Body Mass Index (BMI) over a six-month period compared to adolescents not on the snacking intervention.
  • Swapping protein-rich peanuts or peanut butter for high-carbohydrate snacks 3 to 4 times a week resulted in healthier weights and improved overall health in the children studied.

More About the Study:

Children in the United States consume between two and three snacks each day on average, an amount providing more than a quarter of their daily energy needs. Adolescents are susceptible to unhealthy, irregular eating and snacking patterns that contribute to excess weight gain. Hispanic youths in particular are at risk for acquiring health conditions associated with obesity.

In this study, overweight or obese children, primarily of Mexican-American descent, completed a daily 12-week intensive behavioral program of nutrition education, physical activity, and a peanut-snacking intervention. One group of students was provided with peanuts (1 ounce) and peanut butter (3/4-ounce) snacks every day of the 12-week intervention, and continued to be offered and encouraged to consume the peanut snacks daily over a period of six months. The control group of children were not given peanuts and ate less than one ounce of peanuts a week.

At the end of six months, the group receiving the peanut snacking intervention had greater reductions in BMI than the group that did not receive the intervention.

 Simple Snacking Swaps with Peanuts

By replacing high-carbohydrate, energy-dense snacks in the children’s backpacks with protein and fiber-packed, nutrient-dense peanuts and peanut butter, the study results support peanuts and peanut butter as “smart snacks” for weight management.

Last reviewed: February 2019

Sources

Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents: United States, 1963-1965 through 2011-2012. Health E-Stats. 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_11_12/obesity_child_11_12.htm. Accessed December 21, 2017.

Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief. 2017;288:1–8.

Moreno, Jennette P.; Mohammed, Afshan; Moore, Carolyn E.; and Johnston, Craig (2015) “Benefits of a snacking intervention as part of a school-based obesity intervention for Mexican American children,” Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 6 : Iss. 2 , Article 15