Kids who eat breakfast cereal tend to have healthier diets

July 6, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Kids who eat breakfast cereal tend to have healthier diets
Compared to kids who eat no breakfast at all, or "other" types of breakfast, a new study shows that cereal eaters come out on top for having the healthiest diets.

Researchers from Louisiana State University studied nearly 10,000 kids between the ages of 9 and 18 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2006.

Researchers analyzed everything the kids ate over a 24-hour period. While they didn't specifically calculate how much of total daily nutrients came from breakfast, they found that kids who ate ready-to-eat cereals had "more favorable nutrient intake profiles" and healthier weights than either the breakfast skippers or kids who ate "other breakfasts."

They found that 20 percent of children between the ages of nine and 13 and nearly a third of kids from 14 to 18 were skipping breakfast. The numbers of kids who ate breakfast began to drop off as children got older, and by the time they were in high school, nearly a third were skipping breakfast.

Their findings show that 15 percent of the cereal eaters were obese compared with 20 percent of "other" breakfast eaters and 22 percent of breakfast skippers.

Breakfast skippers got more of their daily energy from "added sugars" than breakfast eaters and ended up with less fiber, fewer nutrients, and the smallest percent of their daily energy provided by protein.

They also ended up with larger waists and a higher BMI (body mass index) than their breakfast-eating counterparts.

Researchers say the findings highlight the importance of eating breakfast at all ages. They say while ready-to-eat cereals sometimes get a bad rap because some of them have high sugar contents, many are high in nutrients, vitamin fortified, made with whole grains, with fiber added.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and funded by the US Department of Agriculture and Kellogg's Corporate Citizenship Fund.

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