The Endocrine Society

The Endocrine Society

March 09, 2015
2 min read

Increased nut intake reduces risk for metabolic syndrome among adolescents

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SAN DIEGO — Even a modest amount of nut consumption could reduce the risk for developing metabolic syndrome among adolescents, according to research presented here.

“In spite of what is known about the health benefits of nuts, most U.S. adolescents eat very few nuts, or no nuts at all, on a typical day,” Roy Kim, MD, MPH, of the UT Southwestern Medical Center, said in a press conference. “Modest intake of nuts among adolescents is associated with a lower chance for metabolic syndrome.”

Roy Kim

Roy Kim

Kim, with David Leonard, PhD, of the Children's Medical Center, Dallas, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2010) to analyze the relationships between nut intake and prevalence of metabolic syndrome in U.S. adolescents and determine differences by sex or race/ethnicity.

The investigators examined 24-hour diet recall surveys, fasting blood tests and anthropometric measurements data for 2,233 individuals aged 12 to 19 years. Significant nut intake was defined by a threshold of 12.9 g/day, based on clinical trial literature. Metabolic syndrome was defined in accordance with published pediatric criteria.

Descriptive results for nut intake were generated across the cohort, along with sex and race/ethnic group-specific strata. Using nut intake as the exposure, the researchers estimated crude and adjusted ORs and 95% CIs for metabolic syndrome. Nonlinear relationships between nut consumption, as a continuous variable, and components of metabolic syndrome were analyzed using regression splines.

Nut intake among adolescents was low (4.1 g/day) on average, and more than 75% of adolescents consumed no nuts at all during the sampling periods. Only 8.9% of adolescents ate more than 12.9 g/day. White adolescents consumed more nuts than non-Hispanic blacks and Latinos (6.1 g vs. 3.1 g vs. 3 g, respectively; ANOVA P < .001). The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 7.4% overall.

Adolescents with higher nut intake were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome compared with low intake (crude OR = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.2-0.93). The likelihood decreased with adjustments for age, sex, race/ethnic category and household income (adjusted OR = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.2-0.92).

“A small amount of nut intake is better than none … research studies on the Mediterranean diet indicate about one ounce of nut intake, three times a week, on average about 12.9 grams per day, seems to be an effective dose,” Kim said.

“This is a cross-sectional study, a snapshot in time, and we can’t conclude that low nut intake in adolescents is causing metabolic syndrome. We need more studies to determine whether prescribing nuts to adolescents will reduce their cardiovascular risk factors.”– by Allegra Tiver


Kim R, Leonard D. Poster Board FRI-146. Presented at: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting; March 5-8, 2015, San Diego.  

Disclosure: Kim reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Editor's Note: On March 17, we corrected the sixth paragraph of the article to clarify data. The Editor's regret this error.