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 as it's been linked to lowering the risk of obesity.
It has also been found that kids who enjoyed peanuts or peanut butter three or four times a week weren’t choosing unhealthy alternative snacks.
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 ate 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, therefore unhealthy foods will lead to an unhealthy body. 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 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."
He concluded by stressing the importance of schools promoting healthy eating so the kids can lead a "long, happy life."