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Forthcoming Dietary Study Highlights Important Role of Ready-to-Eat Cereal at Breakfast Among Girls


Key Finding: What’s In Your Child’s Morning Meal Matters

Three important findings based on a decade of dietary data tracking reveal that children and adolescents who eat cereal for breakfast may have an advantage when it comes to getting both the essential daily nutrients their bodies need and physical activity. Complete results of the study, led by The General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition in Minneapolis, will be published in the November 21 issue of Nutrition Research.

“Our emphasis was to identify the healthiest eating practices for our children, and in doing so we examined the role that fortified cereal plays in a healthy diet and lifestyle,” explained Dr. Ronald E. Kleinman, Department of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, co-author of the study. “This research strongly suggests that there’s a link between well-rounded childhood nutrition and eating a bowl of cereal regularly for breakfast.”

Researchers analyzed dietary data collected from more than 2,000 girls over the course of 10 years from childhood through adolescence and identified three reasons why parents may want to encourage their child to eat cereal for breakfast:

Nutrition Boost – Those participants who consumed cereal during the morning meal more often received key nutrients including fiber, iron, folic acid and zinc. And, they ingested less fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol overall compared with the nutrients in foods eaten during non-cereal breakfasts, such as eggs, meat and quick breads;

More Milk – Pairing breakfast cereal with milk translated to higher milk consumption and thus, an increase in calcium intake. While this may seem obvious, higher milk consumption came at a critical time for participants as many adolescents in their tween years begin to turn to soft drinks and milk consumption typically drops off;

Get Moving – A significant association was found between the days where participants ate cereal for breakfast and an increased amount of physical activity. The study suggests that choosing cereal may be a marker to promote healthier behavior beyond nutritious eating to include regular daily exercise and physical activity.

“Around American breakfast tables, many children of all ages begin their day with a bowl full of their favorite cereal, including brands like Cheerios, Kix and Cinnmon Toast Crunch, among others, and we’re pleased to let parents know that based on our research they are making a good choice that can offer positive nutritional returns for their child,” said Susan Crockett, PhD, RD, Senior Technology Officer at the General Mills Bell Institute.

The study draws from the 10-year longitudinal National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS), which recruited a total of 2,379 girls who were between the ages of 9 and 10. This consisted of 1,166 white girls and 1,213 black girls from communities in Berkeley, CA, Cincinnati, OH, and Washington, D.C. Their dietary data was collected 1987 through 1997.

General Mills, the first leading food manufacturer to make all of its Big G breakfast cereals with whole grain, operates in over 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., General Mills had FY2008 global net sales of US$ 14.9 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.


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