The study published in the journal Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition (ICAN) concluded that children who consumed cereal, presweetened or non-presweetened, for breakfast had a lower body mass index (BMI) and less chance of being overweight or obese than children who eat other breakfasts or skip the morning meal entirely.
“This study was novel because it evaluated not only cereal consumers, but cereal consumers against breakfast skippers and expanded beyond anthropometrics (for example, body weight, waist circumference) to examine disease risk markets including blood pressure and blood lipids,” Kevin B. Miller, one of the study authors and senior nutrition scientist at the WK Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition, told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Miller said that the work supports and expands upon two prior papers published by O’Neil et al. Albertson et al. that showed no association between presweetened cereals and weight in children.
“Although the sugar content of presweetened ready-to-eat cereals RTECs has been implicated in contributing to and promoting obesity, the data presented here do not support that conclusion…The published literature indicates that total calories consumed by adolescents who eat presweetened RTECs are not different from those eating non-presweetened RTECs. Our data show that no association exists between the type of breakfast cereal and anthropometric or physiological measures in children,” the study said.
Findings showed that body weight in children across all age groups assessed – 2-5 years, 6-11 years and 12-17 years – was highest in those who skipped breakfast and lowest in those who ate presweetened RTECs.
The study found that the odds of being overweight and obese were greater for 2-5 year olds and 12-17 year olds (adolescents) who skipped breakfast compared to those who consumed presweetened RTECs but indifferent for the 6-11 year old group.
Few differences were found in blood lipids with total count (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglyceride (TG) all within “desirable ranges”, the study said.
“It has previously been reported that TG concentrations in children are related to their consumption of sugars. However, no relationship was found between the presweetened RTEC eaters and TG concentrations in either the 6-11 or 12-17 subgroups,” the authors wrote.
Method used in study
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006 were analyzed using SUDAAN software. The data was from 6,729 participants aged 2-17 years.
NHANES data was used because it is a publically available dataset enabling scientists to compare and reproduce results, Miller said.
He said that the 2003-2006 data used in the study does still represent current habits.
“In general, studies evaluating populations change very little over a period of several years.”
Four groups were created based on breakfast habits – presweetened RTECs, non-presweetened RTECs, breakfast skippers and other breakfasts. Presweetened was defined as ≥9 g of added sugars per serving.
Height and weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, and laboratory values of serum lipids were obtained according to NHANES protocols. BMI was calculated as body weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared. The percentile BMI for age was calculated using growth charts available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
‘Cereal ranks as one of the best breakfast choices available’
Overall findings confirm that breakfast skipping is an unhealthy behavior regardless of a child’s age, the authors said.
Miller said: “At Kellogg, we believe that better days start with breakfast; and cereal ranks as one of the best breakfast choices available because it is a convenient, great tasting, low-fat, nutrient-dense food that encourages breakfast consumption… Study after study has shown that cereal eaters tend to weigh less.”
Source: Journal of Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition (ICAN)
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/1941406412465007
“The Association Between Body Metrics and Breakfast Food Choice in Children”
Authors: KB. Miller, DJ. Liska and VL. Fulgoni