Regular consumption of breakfast cereal can lower cholesterol and reduce obesity in children, according to new research.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and part funded by General Mills, found that children who ate cereal more frequently had a higher percentage of energy from carbohydrate and protein and a lower percentage from total fats. Higher cereal consumption was also associated with higher fiber intake and higher sucrose intake and with reduced intake of cholesterol and a lower body mass index.
The report observed children’s cereal consumption over an average period of seven and a half years from aged eight to ten at baseline to 17 at final visit. Its findings tally with research released last year by The General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition in Minneapolis, which found that eating cereal at breakfast time can help people manage their weight and eat more healthily throughout the rest of the day.
Cereals under scrutiny
It comes at a time when cereal manufacturers are coming under increasing scrutiny from governments and consumer watchdogs for the high levels of sugar, salt and fat contained in their products.
The positive nutritional effects of eating cereals were observed to a greater degree in boys than in girls. Boys were found to be more likely to consume cereal than girls and consumed it in greater portions.
Micronutrient intake (vitamin C, vitamin D, folate, calcium, iron and zinc) was significantly associated with cereal consumption for both sexes. Only sodium intake showed no correlation with eating cereal.
The linear trend for total serum cholesterol in relation to frequency of cereal consumption was significant for boys but not for girls. Across visits, boys who ate cereal more often had lower total serum cholesterol.
Link with weight gain
The relationship of cereal consumption to BMI was statistically significant in boys indicating that lower BMI was linked with more days of cereal consumption across visits. The trend for girls was not significant.
Researchers concluded that cereal consumption can contribute to a healthy dietary pattern and nutrient intake that is favorably associated with cardiovascular risk factors such as lipid levels and BMI, particularly among boys.
Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association
doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.06.363The Relationship of Ready-to-Eat Cereal
"Consumption to Nutrient Intake, Blood Lipids, and Body Mass Index of Children as They Age through Adolescence"
Authors: A. M. Albertson, S. G. Affenito, R. Bauserman, N. M. Holschuh,
A. L. Eldridge, B. A. Barton.