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Nutr Res. 2011 Mar;31(3):229-36. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2011.03.004.

Weight indicators and nutrient intake in children and adolescents do not vary by sugar content in ready-to-eat cereal: results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006.

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Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills, Inc., James Ford Bell Technical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55427, USA.


Few studies have explored the relationship between sugar content in cereal and health outcome among children and adolescents. This study was designed to investigate the associations between ready-to-eat cereals, categorized by sugar content, with weight indicators and nutrient intake profiles. Data collected from 6- to 18-year-old US children and adolescents (N = 9660) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-06 were used to analyze cereal consumption. Body mass index (BMI), BMI-for-age, waist-to-height ratio, percent overweight or obese, mean day-1 intake, and usual daily intake of macronutrients and micronutrients were the dependent variables; day-1 cereal intake, categorized by tertiles of sugar content, was the main independent variable. Weighted regression with adjustment for the survey design was used to model the dependent variables as a function of day-1 cereal intake, adjusting for age group, sex, race/ethnicity, total day-1 intake of energy, calcium and sugar, the Healthy Eating Index-2005 total score, and household income. For all tertiles of sugar classifications of cereal, children who consumed cereal had significantly lower BMI compared with children who consumed no cereal (P's < .05). Similarly, when compared with children who consumed no cereal, those who ate cereal consumed significantly less fat and cholesterol and significantly more carbohydrates, sugar, whole grains, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B(6), folic acid, vitamin B(12), vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Lower weight and positive nutrient profiles were associated with cereal consumption regardless of sugar content.

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