Research| Volume 103, ISSUE 12, P1613-1619, December 2003

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Ready-to-eat cereal consumption: its relationship with BMI and nutrient intake of children aged 4 to 12 years



      To examine the relationship between ready-to-eat cereal consumption habits and body mass index of a sample of children aged 4 to 12 years.


      Fourteen-day self-reported food diary records were obtained from a sample of 2,000 American households from February 1998 through February 1999. Height and weight of the family members were also self-reported.


      The sample population of 603 children, aged 4 to 12 years, was broken into tertiles based on cereal consumption over the 14 days: (three or fewer, four to seven, or eight or more servings).

      Statistical analysis

      Logistic regression and analysis of variance were used to determine associations between frequency of ready-to-eat cereal consumption and body mass index or nutrient intakes.


      More than 90% of children aged 4 to 12 years consumed ready-to-eat cereal at least once in the two-week collection period. Within tertiles of consumption, children in the upper tertile had lower mean body mass indexes than those in the lowest tertile consistently across all age groups (P<.01). Additionally, the proportion of children aged 4 to 12 years who were at risk for overweight/overweight was significantly lower in the upper tertile of cereal consumption (P<.05). Children in the upper tertile also had lower fat intakes and higher intakes of many micronutrients.


      The consumption of ready-to-eat cereals at breakfast should be encouraged as a component of an eating pattern that promotes the maintenance of healthful body weights and nutrient intakes in children.
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      A. M. Albertson is a senior nutrition research scientist, S. J. Crockett is director of nutrition, and M. T. Goebel is a statistical programmer with The Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills, Inc, Minnapolis, MN, USA


      G. H. Anderson is a professor of nutrition with the Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada