Background: Data concerning the long-term association between nut consumption and weight change in a free-living population are sparse.
Objective: The objective was to determine the relation between nut consumption and long-term weight change.
Design: The participants were 51,188 women in the Nurses' Health Study II aged 20-45 y, who had no cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer. We prospectively evaluated the dietary intake of nuts and subsequent weight changes from 1991 to 1999.
Results: Women who reported eating nuts > or =2 times/wk had slightly less mean (+/- SE) weight gain (5.04 +/- 0.12 kg) than did women who rarely ate nuts (5.55 +/- 0.04 kg) (P for trend < 0.001). For the same comparison, when total nut consumption was subdivided into peanuts and tree nuts, the results were similar (ie, less weight gain in women eating either peanuts or tree nuts > or =2 times/wk). The results were similar in normal-weight, overweight, and obese participants. In multivariate analyses in which lifestyle and other dietary factors were controlled for, we found that greater nut consumption (> or =2 times/wk compared with never/almost never) was associated with a slightly lower risk of obesity (hazard ratio: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.57, 1.02; P for trend = 0.003).
Conclusions: Higher nut consumption was not associated with greater body weight gain during 8 y of follow-up in healthy middle-aged women. Instead, it was associated with a slightly lower risk of weight gain and obesity. The results of this study suggest that incorporating nuts into diets does not lead to greater weight gain and may help weight control.