The study described here examined in the USA how the consumption of snacks affected overweight in Latin-American youngsters. On a daily basis children there consume between two and three snacks – most of them high in fat, sugar and salt. These snacks alone provide more than a quarter of the nutritive energy needed. For this reason snacking between the three main meals might be the reason for too high an energy intake and the development of overweight. The researchers attempted to offer schoolchildren an alternative in the form of healthier snacks. These contained peanuts and peanut butter, which are very popular in the USA. Although peanuts are high in fat, studies have shown that a high consumption of them does not cause overweight. The peanut snacks, which were handed out at midday, formed part of a 6-month regime for 257 overweight Mexican youngsters who were also taking part in nutrition classes and exercise courses. Because the snacks contained the popular peanut butter, when various kinds of fruit and vegetables were also added, the children readily accepted them. The protein in the peanut snacks ensured that the schoolchildren were satisfied for longer and so automatically ate less at the next meal. At the end of the 6-month regime the schoolchildren were surveyed on how many peanuts and how much peanut butter they had eaten altogether. Schoolchildren who ate these once a week at most lost less weight than those who ate peanuts and peanut butter several times a week. Other studies have shown that the consumption of peanuts in childhood led to improved eating habits, a healthier bodyweight and lower blood fat levels in later life. Conclusion: when integrated into an intensive eating and exercise regime, peanut snacks are an effective means of reducing overweight in young people.
Moreno JP et al.: Benefits of a snacking intervention as part of a school-based obesity intervention for Mexican American children. Journal of Applied Research on Children. 2015 Apr;6(2):15.