The yummy Kellogg’s ad, the mouth-watering chocos ad or the colorful muesli ad tricks even adults into buying these cereals. Breakfast cereals are the most popular choices for breakfast preferred by school-going children as it is easy to eat, much sugary and doesn’t bore you. Almost 9 of every 10 kids in UK eat these cereals for breakfast. Our traditional choices for breakfast such as idli, dosa, omelettes and French toast have been replaced with a bowl of cereal and a glass of fruit juice. The meal sounds simple and easy on the weight but rising obesity rates prove otherwise. Almost 2 billion people are overweight/obese which makes obesity a public health epidemic that can cause debilitating effects on the health of the individual. A disease that was restricted to developed countries only a couple of decades back, obesity which exists at the other extreme end of the malnutrition scale is a serious health problem in developing countries as well. Obesity has become a grave threat to humans that we are standing at a juncture where US children might suffer from a shorter lifespan compared to their parents. The days are not far off when the scenario attacks other countries as well.
In 2015, a total of 107.7 million children and 603 million adults were obese and although prevalent rates of obesity are still lower in kids (5% in kids compared to 12% in adults) compared to adults the rate of increase of childhood obesity in children is greater than the rate of increase in adults. Obesity is bad for health-both mental and physical. It increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, different cancers and cardiovascular disease as well as pushes a person into depression, isolation, lack of self-esteem and social withdrawal.
Breakfast & BMI
Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day but sadly many of us skip this meal mostly despite realizing the meal’s role in sustaining micronutrients and macronutrients. This practice of skipping started around the mid-1960s and the proportion of adults skipping breakfast increased from 14 to 25% quoting lack of time to prepare and excess body weight. Breakfast and BMI are inversely related to each other. Those who eat breakfast normally have a lower BMI and obese individuals generally skip breakfast or eat very little of it.
Worldwide, the problem exists and it is not restricted to certain parts of the world. China and India have the highest number of obese children, in Brazil and Columbia almost 36-41% of the population is overweight and in Mexico, almost 26% children aged between 5 and 12 are obese. Obesity rates were lowest among kids in Bangladesh. So, what causes such increase in obesity rates among different countries? Several studies have identified increased intake of dietary fat as the major contributor towards increase in body fats. Increased fat content in meals contribute towards increased energy values without any nutrients. The first step sought after in any weight loss measure is to decrease dietary fat which apart from losing weight also helps to maintain low cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood, reduce leptin concentration, reduced insulin resistance and lower cardiovascular and diabetes risk.
Increasing carbohydrate to fat ratio reduces the energy density of the diet and this can be achieved by various means the most famous of which is to increase cereal consumption to improve carbohydrate to fat ratio-this has already been proved in adults and one study tried to show that an increase in dietary carbohydrates from ready-to-eat-cereals (RTEC) is an effective treatment for weight loss in overweight/obese children. The study also probed into the effect of the inclusion of a nutrition program and also whether intake of RTEC alone or in combination with the nutrition program bore better advantages.
Cereal Intake, Nutrition Lesson & their Effect on Weight Loss
Overweight is defined as a BMI-for age at or above the 95th percentile in children and in the study that looked into the effect of cereal on weight loss children above the 85th percentile was enrolled into the study. If a child has a value between 85th and 95th percentile then he/she is at a risk for overweight issues. 905 children were screened among which 17% were between 85th and 95th percentile and 18% were above the 95th percentile. Only 178 participants completed the study and they were assigned to one of the four treatment methods randomly.
Method 1: Served one serving of RTEC at breakfast
Method 2: Served two servings of RTEC, one at breakfast and one at dinner
Method 3: One serving of RTEC at breakfast and both, the mother and child received a nutrition guide that helps teaching people to eat nutritious foods
Method 4: No treatment was offered
The study was for 12 weeks and the kids were asked to choose between four types of RTEC-corn-based, pre-sweetened corn-based, pre-sweetened corn-based chocolate flavored and pre-sweetened rice-based chocolate flavored. The pre-sweetened RTEC was allowed only thrice a week for every child and for the remaining days the kid chose only from a corn based RTEC. As a part of the nutrition program sessions were conducted every week for parents (mothers mostly) and dietary recommendations were given by nutritionists which suggested including lots of whole grains, cereals, lettuce, veggies, fruits, low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, pasta, rice and cereal.
Fasting blood samples of the children were taken before and after the study, physical activity questionnaires were filled by the mother before and after the study, percent fat and fat-free mass were calculated, LDL and HDL were calculated from total cholesterol and BMI and BMI percentile were calculated.
Results showed that after 12 weeks of intervention:
Meta-analysis of various studies shows that children who consume breakfast and breakfast cereal have a significantly lower mean BMI and are less likely to be overweight/obese compared to kids who rarely/don’t eat breakfast cereal.
The various nutrients present in a breakfast cereal make it an integral source of health fulfilling vitamin, minerals, antioxidants and phytoestrogen needs. Cross sectional studies on the effects of breakfast cereal on kids and adolescents showed that those kids who eat breakfast cereal regularly have lower daily cholesterol intakes, are less likely to have vitamin and mineral intakes below recommended daily levels and have better overall nutrient scores. Breakfast cereals are nutrient-rich and don’t take much of your time which makes them an integral part of a balanced diet when we ensure that the cereal that we eat are not sugar-laden and rich in empty calories.
An increase of cereal intake as an approach to weight reduction in children is effective only when accompanied with nutrition education: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-7-28
Does regular breakfast cereal consumption help children and adolescents stay slimmer? https://www.karger.com/article/FullText/348878
Health effects of overweight & obesity in 195 countries over 25 years: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1614362#t=article
The benefits of breakfast cereal consumption: https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/5/5/636S/4565784
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART
+91 7846 800 800