The December 2014 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics included this supplement, supported by funding from Academy partner the Kellogg company.
This research supplement provides four continuing education units (CEUs) for dietitians. Remember, dietitians need to complete 75 of these units every five years to maintain their credential. Not surprisingly, the research articles in this journal paint breakfast cereals in a very positive light.
- “Cereal fiber has been shown to play a protective role in heart disease, cancer, digestive diseases, and obesity.”
Fair enough, but many breakfast cereals offer quite a bit of added sugar (and, in some cases, unhealthy oils — Froot Loops is made with hydrogenated oils), which is certainly troubling from a heart disease standpoint.
- “Sweetening grains, such as those found in pre-sweetened ready-to-eat-cereal, can help improve palatability.”
A standard industry talking point (the Sugar Association, for instance, states sugar helps make vegetables more palatable to children). Considering that the average American is eating 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day, why promote sweetened grains?
- “Although studies are limited, there appears to be no association between presweetened ready-to-eat-cereal and body weight when they are consumed in moderation.”
Ah, the ever-elusive moderation. One thing is for sure: in the United States, sugar is not consumed in moderation. Also, body weight should not be the only marker for health.
- “Those consuming ready-to-eat cereals at breakfast tended to have higher intakes of several micronutrients and dietary fiber, and lower intakes of fat and cholesterol.”
Ready-to-eat cereals are fortified (in that case, they are essentially a multivitamin), but fortified foods are not nutritionally equal to whole foods that offer vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients. Also note how there is no mention of added sugar intake for those who consume ready-to-eat cereals.
- “Ready-to-eat cereals are a vehicle for encouraging consumption of nutrient-rich fruit and dairy.”
This is akin to saying — which industry does say, by the way — that caramel dip can be a “vehicle” for encouraging consumption of apples. Is eating a piece of fruit that difficult unless it is accompanied by a bowl of Frosted Flakes?
Considering that ready-to-eat cereal sales are in free-fall (fellow Academy partner General Mills is really in a slump), this supplement comes at a very opportune time for Kellogg’s.
It is also worth noting that over half the authors were members of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Council at the time these articles were written, though the journal notes that the KBC “had no input into the study design or interpretation of the data.”