The next time you feel like treating yourself to a spoonful of peanut butter straight out of the jar, you won’t have to worry about how it will affect your waistline. The best news all week? Peanut butter has been linked to lowering the risk of obesity.
It’s also been discovered that kids who enjoy peanuts or peanut butter three or four times a week tend to stay away from choosing unhealthy alternative snacks afterwards.
Researchers from the University of Houston monitored a group of 257 middle-school children, all of whom were at risk of being overweight or obese. Half of them were given peanuts or peanut butter three to four times a week over 12 weeks, while the other half received the snacks around once a week. These were presented to them when they left school for the day.
At the end of the period, the students spent another 12 weeks following the healthy snacking habit, after which it was found those who tucked into peanuts more had a decrease in their body mass index (BMI). The study was published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children.
“Obesity is the most pressing health issue facing us today,” Dr Craig Johnston, assistant professor at the university, noted. “We’d like to think it’s preventable, but from where I sit right now, there hasn’t been a lot shown to be very effective on a large scale.”
He also acknowledged that snacking is more common during adolescent years. Choosing unhealthy foods can lead to an unhealthy food habits, which in turn can lead to health complications down the line like obesity. This is even more noticeable for those who don’t eat any other meals during the school day.
“We have a lot of kids skipping meals for a whole bunch of reasons,” Dr Johnston added. “What we found is that kids get home from school around 4 pm. 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.”
He concluded by stressing the importance of schools promoting healthy eating so the kids can lead a “long, happy life.”
Pro-tip: if you do start including peanuts and peanut butter in your kids’ diets, make sure you stick to the unsalted variety. Sodium is no friend to your kids’ waistlines.