Purpose: This study aims to analyse the association of European adolescents' ready-to-eat-cereal (RTEC) consumption frequency with their dietary intake by applying the concept of diet quality index and nutritional status.
Methods: From the multi-centre European HELENA study, relevant data were available in 1,215 adolescents (12.5-17.5 years). RTEC consumption was identified from a food frequency questionnaire. A diet quality index, daily nutrient intakes and daily milk/yoghurt and fruit intake were calculated from two 24-h dietary recalls. BMI, waist and hip circumference and body fat were measured for body composition. Cross-sectional regression analyses were adjusted for sex, age, socio-economic status, city and breakfast skipping. Differences in sub-regions within Europe were explored.
Results: RTEC consumers showed a more favourable daily micronutrient intake (vitamin B2, B5, B7, D, calcium, phosphorus and potassium), a better diet quality index, more frequent fruit (57 vs. 51%) and milk/yoghurt consumption (81.2 vs. 56%) and less breakfast skipping (25.1 vs. 36.7%). No differences in energy and macronutrient intake were observed. Daily RTEC consumers were 57% less likely to be overweight than RTEC non-consumers but did not differ in glucose and lipid status (N = 387).
Conclusion: This is the first comprehensive pan-European survey elucidating socio-demographic determinants of European adolescents' RTEC consumption and indicating better dietary habits in RTEC consumers. The improved dietary profile was reflected in a more beneficial body composition. Our results have also shown the advantage of using an all-integrating diet quality index by capturing the diet complexity.