Ready-to-eat cereals improve nutrient, milk and fruit intake at breakfast in European adolescents

Eur J Nutr. 2016 Mar;55(2):771-779. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-0898-x. Epub 2015 Apr 19.


Purpose: Breakfast consumption has been recommended as part of a healthy diet. Recently, ready-to-eat cereals (RTEC) became more popular as a breakfast item. Our aim was to analyse the dietary characteristics of an RTEC breakfast in European adolescents and to compare them with other breakfast options.

Methods: From the European multi-centre HELENA study, two 24-h dietary recalls of 3137 adolescents were available. Food items (RTEC or bread, milk/yoghurt, fruit) and macro- and micronutrient intakes at breakfast were calculated. Cross-sectional regression analyses were adjusted for gender, age, socio-economic status and city.

Results: Compared to bread breakfasts (39 %) and all other breakfasts (41.5 %), RTEC breakfast (19.5 %) was associated with improved nutrient intake (less fat and less sucrose; more fibre, protein and some micronutrients like vitamin B, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus) at the breakfast occasion. Exceptions were more simple sugars in RTEC breakfast consumers: more lactose and galactose due to increased milk consumption, but also higher glucose and fructose than bread consumers. RTEC consumers had a significantly higher frequency (92.5 vs. 50.4 and 60.2 %) and quantity of milk/yoghurt intake and a slightly higher frequency of fruit intake (13.4 vs. 10.9 and 8.0 %) at breakfast.

Conclusions: Among European adolescents, RTEC consumers showed a more favourable nutrient intake than consumers of bread or other breakfasts, except for simple sugars. Therefore, RTEC may be regarded as a good breakfast option as part of a varied and balanced diet. Nevertheless, more research is warranted concerning the role of different RTEC types in nutrient intake, especially for simple sugars.

Keywords: Adolescents; Breakfast; Fruit; Milk; Nutrients; Ready-to-eat cereals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Breakfast*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / analysis
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Sucrose / analysis
  • Edible Grain*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fast Foods*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Micronutrients / analysis
  • Milk*
  • Nutritive Value
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Micronutrients