A peanut may be the key to preventing obesity, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children. The researchers found that Hispanic middle-school children experienced a decreased body mass index (BMI) after sticking to a diet that included peanuts.
The researchers from the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP), Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas Woman’s University studied 257 adolescent Latino participants from three schools in Houston for 12 weeks. The researchers gave half of them a snack of peanuts or peanut butter as they board the bus to go home, about three to four times weekly while others got less than once a week.
The research team explained peanuts are nutrient-dense food items that promotes the feeling of fullness. After 12 weeks of this routine, the participants were still encouraged to continue this healthy habit.
The researchers observed that the students who got the snacks more frequently had a decrease in their overall BMI, about seven kilogrammes per square metre was reduced. However, those who did not receive as much peanut snack only experienced about three kilogrammes per square metre reduction.
This demonstrated that schools should suggest their students to eat more peanuts, as long as they do not have nut allergies. The researchers pointed out that a student tends to eat unhealthily especially when there are no other healthier alternatives around
“We have a lot of kids skipping meals for a whole bunch of reasons,” noted Craig Johnston, HHP assistant professor. “What we found is that kids get home from school around 4 p.m. There’s less supervision by parents and less structure. Kids are sitting down at the TV and eating, eating, eating because they really didn’t eat at school.”
Johnston added that no strategies have been found to prevent obesity on a large scale. Hence, there is a need for more creative techniques that will ensure effective weight, appetite and hunger management by handing out acceptable food choices.
“Schools are doing a great job of teaching kids, getting them workforce ready, and a whole bunch of other things. We’ve just got to make sure that our kids are going to live long, happy lives with that kind of education,” said Craig.