7 – Giving kids peanut snacks can help them lose weight, and keep it off
By Elaine Watson
- Last updated on
One of the most inspiring presentations at the three-day educational event was given by Craig Johnston, PhD, assistant professor, pediatric nutrition, at Baylor College of Medicine, who presented a 2012 randomized controlled study on low-income overweight Mexican American kids in Houston, Texas.
Those given an ounce of peanuts or ¾ oz of peanut butter daily, coupled with weekly nutrition education and exercises classes, not only lost weight and snacked considerably less, but kept the weight off up to two years later, something almost unheard of in weight management intervention trials.
“More than 79% of children in the intervention group had a lower BMI after one year, and 62% at two years, whereas two thirds of the control group had a higher BMI.”
Asked whether the exercise rather than the peanuts was the reason behind their success, Dr Johnston said: “The increase in physical activity was not actually a big predictor of the changes in BMI, whereas the snacking intervention [peanuts] was.
“Snacking episodes went down dramatically when we gave the kids the peanuts or peanut butter and that correlated with the weight loss. The problem was that a lot of these kids were skipping breakfast and lunch and then by the time they got home they were starving, so they completely lost control of what they were eating. Nearly all of the snacking was between 2pm and 11pm.”
He added: “The great thing is that peanuts are one of those foods that you can eat over and over again without getting bored, and eating the same thing as a snack or at breakfast, for example, is something that many people on weight management regimes find is very effective, as it gives them more control.
“Research also shows that when you pair peanut butter with vegetables, kids are much more likely to eat them.”