Sunday, March 20, 2016

Can Snacking Combat Obesity?

Snacking is a typical behavior for children and adolescents.  According to Craig Johnston, the assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Woman’s University, it is becoming more common to see children arrive home from school and mindlessly eat.  Many factors can trigger this type of behavior, such as not having access to adequate meals during school, consuming a less nutritious breakfast, or not consuming breakfast at all.  This mindless style of eating can become dangerous and easily lead to an unhealthy weight.

A recent study shows that regularly consuming nutrient-dense snacks may help to prevent obesity.  This particular nutrition intervention study altered the snacking habits of Hispanic middle school children at risk for becoming overweight.  The children were given a snack of nutrient-dense peanuts or peanut butter after school as they were heading to the school bus.  Peanuts were chosen due to their ability to produce satiety.  After 12 weeks, the children who consumed the snack of peanuts or peanut butter were found to have lowered their BMI more so than the children who had not consumed the snack.  Interestingly enough, researchers also revealed that even after the study had ended, the children adhered to their daily nutrient-dense snack.

The researchers of this study suggest that schools and afterschool programs should no longer offer energy dense snacks that provide little nutrition.  Instead, schools should provide children with nutrient-dense snacks such as peanuts.  The common belief is that even small changes such as this one can help children make acceptable food choices, which can in turn lead to a healthier lifestyle.

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