Effect of nuts on energy intake, hunger, and fullness, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(1):84-93. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1514486. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


Despite high energy content, nut consumption has not been associated with weight gain in epidemiological and clinical investigations. Since a satiety effect a decreased sense of hunger in the following meals has been proposed as the mechanism of nuts against obesity, the present meta-analysis was performed to examine how nut consumption affects "energy intake", "hunger", and "fullness". "Weight" was not included among the search terms but weight data were extracted from the collected articles in order to help interpreting the results. A total of 1048 trials were found, of which 31 passed the eligibility process. Daily energy intake was mostly assessed by 3-day food records, and hunger and fullness were estimated by visual analog scale (VAS). Nut consumption was associated with increased energy intake (mean difference (MD) (nuts - control) = 76.3 kcal; 95% CI: 22.7, 130 kcal; P = 0.005). In contrast, hunger suppressed following nut consumption (MD = -6.54 mm VAS; 95% CI: -12.7, -0.42 mm VAS; P = 0.03). Nuts did not affect sense of fullness and weight in the overall estimate. Subgroup analysis based on participants' BMI revealed that energy intake of overweight/obese individuals was increased following nut consumption while such effect was not observed in normal weight participants. In conclusion, pooled estimates of available clinical trials showed increased energy intake following nut consumption in overweight/obese individuals but not in persons with normal weight. Nut consumption was associated with decreased hunger but no effect was observed on fullness and weight.

Keywords: Nuts; energy intake; fullness; hunger; obesity; satiety; weight.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Humans
  • Hunger*
  • Nuts*
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Satiation*