Ready-to-eat cereals benefit poor kids

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A third of all American children are overweight or obese, and this proportion is even greater among children from low-income households and minority ethnic groups. For example, 40 percent of Mexican-American children living in poverty are overweight or obese. But new research indicates that consuming ready-to-eat cereal (RTEC) can help fight this tendency.

Dr. LB Frantzen and colleagues collected food consumption information from 625 fourth to sixth grade low-income children in San Antonio, Texas. The children provided 24-hour dietary intake information at the beginning of the fourth grade and at the ends of their fifth- and sixth-grade years. The researchers evaluated the children s nutrient and calorie intake at each of those times, as well as measuring their height and weight and calculating their BMIs.

The investigators found that the more often children consumed RTEC for breakfast, they were significantly less likely to become overweight or obese. Further, the more frequent consumption of RTEC was also significantly associated with improved nutrient consumption. In particular, the children had significantly greater intakes of vitamins C, D, and B12, as well as lower intake of cholesterol.

These data clearly support the hypothesis that RTEC for breakfast can both improve nutritional status and help prevent overweight and obesity in pre-teen children, commented ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava. She added, It remains to be seen whether this effect would continue as the children get older. And of course, these results need confirmation from larger studies in other regions this is still a fairly small study.