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.