Monitoring Changes in the Nutritional Content of Ready-To-Eat Grain-Based Dessert Products Manufactured and Purchased between 2005 and 2012

Published:December 21, 2014DOI:



      Monitoring changes in the nutritional content of food/beverage products and shifts in consumer purchasing behaviors is needed to measure the effectiveness of efforts by both food manufacturers and policy makers to improve dietary quality in the United States.


      To examine changes in the nutritional content (eg, energy, saturated fat, and sugar density) of ready-to-eat (RTE) grain-based dessert (GBD) products manufactured and purchased between 2005 and 2012.


      Nutrition Facts panel information from commercial databases was linked to RTE GBD products purchased by households (N=134,128) in the Nielsen Homescan longitudinal dataset 2005-2012.

      Statistical analysis

      Linear regression models were used to examine changes in the energy, saturated fat, and sugar density of RTE GBD products manufactured in each year between 2005 and 2012. Random effects models controlling for demographics, household composition/size, and geographic location were used to examine changes in household purchases of RTE GBD products (in grams) and the average energy, saturated fat, and sugar density of RTE GBD products purchased.


      The saturated fat density (grams/100 g) of RTE GBD products increased significantly from 6.5±0.2 in 2005 to 7.3±0.2 and 7.9±0.2 for pre-existing and newly introduced products in 2012, respectively. Between 2005 and 2012, the energy density (kilocalories/100 g) of RTE GBD products purchased decreased significantly from 433±0.2 to 422±0.2, the saturated fat density (grams/100 g) of products purchased increased significantly from 6.3±0.01 to 6.6±0.01, the sugar density (grams/100 g) of products purchased decreased significantly from 32.4±0.03 to 31.3±0.02, and household purchases of RTE GBD products (in grams) decreased by 24.1%±0.4%.


      These results highlight an opportunity for both food manufacturers and public health officials to develop new strategies to shift consumer purchases toward products with lower energy, saturated fat, and sugar densities in addition to decreasing overall purchases of RTE GBDs.


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      K. C. Mathias is an R&D associate specialist, Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland; at the time of the study, he was a doctoral candidate, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


      S. W. Ng is a research assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


      B. Popkin is a distinguished professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.