Background: Poor micronutrient status is reported among adolescents across Europe and USA. This may be related to the well-documented decline in the regular consumption of breakfast by this group. The regular consumption of a breakfast cereal offers a possible means to improve micronutrient status; fortified cereal is likely to have enhanced benefit. A study was conducted to determine the efficacy of the regular consumption of a fortified cereal with milk, compared with unfortified cereal, consumed either as a breakfast or a supper, in improving micronutrient intake and micronutrient status of adolescent girls.
Methods: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention trial was conducted in girls recruited at ages 16-19 years, from schools and colleges in Sheffield, UK. Girls were randomised to receive 50 g fortified or unfortified cereal, with 150 ml semi-skimmed milk, daily, for 12 weeks, as a breakfast or as a supper. Dietary intake was estimated using a 4-d food diary and blood collected for the assessment of nutritional status. Within-group changes were tested using a paired sample t test; two-way ANOVA was used to analyse effects of the intervention, with cereal type and time of consumption as factors, correcting for baseline values. The analysis was conducted on 71 girls who completed the study.
Results: Consumption of unfortified cereal elicited an increase in the intake of vitamins B1, B2 and B6; consumption of fortified cereal elicited increases in vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, folate and iron (P < 0.001) and of vitamin D (P = 0.007), all increases were significantly greater than for unfortified cereal. Consumption of the fortified cereal also led to a significant improvement in biomarkers of status for vitamins B2, B12, folate and of iron, compared with girls receiving the unfortified cereal, and maintained vitamin D status, in contrast with the girls receiving the unfortified cereal (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: The daily consumption of cereal with milk for 12 weeks by adolescent girls, increased intakes of micronutrients. The consumption of fortified cereal elicited greater increases than for unfortified cereal and improved biomarkers of micronutrient status. The findings justify strategies to encourage the consumption of fortified cereal with milk by adolescents, either as a breakfast or a supper.
Trial registration: Registered with Current Controlled Trials (Registration: ISRCTN55141306 ).
Keywords: Adolescents; Breakfast; Fortified cereal; Micronutrients; Vitamin and mineral status.