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Eating Ready-to-Eat Cereal for Breakfast is Positively Associated With Daily Nutrient Intake, but Not Weight, in Mexican-American Children and Adolescents: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2002

Pineda Vargas, Solange S. MS, MD; O’Neil, Carol E. PhD, MPH, LDN, RD; Keast, Debra R. PhD; Cho, Susan S. PhD, MS; Nicklas, Theresa A. DrPH

doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e3182993988
Food and Health

Ready-to-eat cereal (RTEC) has been associated with improved nutrient intake and weight status, but intake has not been studied in Mexican-American (MA) children. The objective of this study was to assess whether nutrient intake, mean adequacy ratio (MAR), and weight were associated with classification of 3 breakfast consumption groups: breakfast skippers, RTEC breakfast consumers, and other breakfast (OB) consumers. Data on MA children (6–12 years; n = 1060) and adolescents (13–18 years; n = 1395) who participated in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were analyzed. One 24-hour diet recall was used to calculate nutrient intakes and MAR for micronutrients. Weight, body mass index, and waist circumference were evaluated. For statistical analyses, between-group differences in mean covariate-adjusted nutrient intake, unadjusted MAR, and unadjusted weights were examined. Nine percent of children and 28% of adolescents skipped breakfast; 34% and 22% of those age groups consumed RTEC breakfasts, respectively. Children who consumed an RTEC breakfast had higher intakes of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, and zinc than did children in the OB consumption group and breakfast skippers. Ready-to-eat cereal breakfast consumers also had a higher MAR and higher intakes of phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium than did breakfast skippers but not than OB consumers. Ready-to-eat cereal breakfast consumers had lower intakes of total fat, polyunsaturated fatty acid, and cholesterol than did OB consumers. In adolescents, compared with breakfast skippers or OB consumers, RTEC breakfast consumers had a higher MAR and higher intakes of vitamins A, B6, and B12; thiamin; riboflavin; niacin; folate; phosphorus; iron; and zinc. Carbohydrate intake was higher in RTEC breakfast consumers than in skippers or OB consumers. Children who consumed OB had lower mean body mass index and waist circumference than did those children who skipped breakfast. In MA children and adolescents, RTEC breakfast consumers had improved nutrient intake compared with breakfast skippers and OB consumers, and RTEC should be encouraged as a convenient, low-fat, nutrient-dense breakfast option.

Solange S. Pineda Vargas, MS, MD, graduated with a BS from the Universidad Industrial de Santander in 1994 and an MS in 2007 from Louisiana State University. She is a practicing physician in Colombia and completed this work as a graduate student at Louisiana State University.

Carol E. O’Neil, PhD, MPH, LDN, RD, is a Class of 1941 Alumni Professor at the School of Human Ecology at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Debra R. Keast, PhD, is president of Food & Nutrition Database at Research Consulting in Okemos, Michigan.

Susan S. Cho, PhD, MS, is president of NutraSource in Clarksville, Maryland.

Theresa A. Nicklas, DrPH, is a professor at the Department of Pediatrics, USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Funding for this work was received from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund.

Partial support was received from the USDA Hatch Project (LAB 93951) and the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund. The authors acknowledge the technical assistance of Michael Zanovec of the LSU AgCenter and Lori Briones and Bee Wong of the Children’s Nutrition Research Center. This work is a publication of the USDA/Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and was also funded in part with federal funds from the USDA/ARS under Cooperative Agreement no. 58-6250-6-003. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the USDA, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement from the US government.

Dr O’Neil is a member of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Council; the other authors report no conflicts or potential conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Theresa A. Nicklas, DrPH, USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Ave, Houston, TX 77030 (

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