Cereal still the healthiest start to your day

If you’re reluctant to eat breakfast cereal because of concerns over its added sugar content, nutritionists want you to know that it’s still the best possible start to your day!

Nutrition Research Australia’s analysis of ABS data found that cereal-eaters consume less added sugars than those who choose other foods or skip breakfast altogether.

The analysis of the 2011-13 ABS Australian Health Survey is the first to examine the role of breakfast cereals in our added sugar intake. It reveals that for adults and children alike, breakfast cereals contribute 4g or less of added sugars daily. It also shows:

  • Adults who ate breakfast cereal had the lowest daily added sugar intake – 10 per cent lower than those who ate other breakfast foods and 26 per cent lower than those who skip breakfast;
  • There was no difference in children’s daily added sugar intake, whether they ate cereal, chose other breakfast foods or skipped breakfast; and
  • Added sugar from breakfast cereal accounted for less than one per cent of the daily energy intake in the diets of child (0.8%) and adult (0.7%) cereal-eaters.

Nutrition Research Australia director and lead researcher Dr Flavia Fayet-Moore said the results were consistent with what we know about Australian dietary habits.

“Our previous analysis of the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey showed that the majority of adults and children ate breakfast cereals low in total sugars, and on average, only added a small amount of sugar to their cereal bowl,” said Dr Fayet-Moore.

“These are important findings as they help to provide a clearer picture about the contribution of breakfast cereal to added sugars in Australian diets.

“This work builds on our original ABS analysis that showed breakfast cereal-eaters had a more nutritious diet and were more likely to reach their nutrient targets despite having a similar total energy intake to people who skipped breakfast or ate other breakfast foods.

“Adult cereal eaters were also slimmer and had a smaller waist circumference.” Nutrition Research Australia calculated daily added sugars for all respondents by absolute amount (grams) and proportion of daily energy.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson and Accredited Practising Dietitian Joel Feren said breakfast cereals were a smart choice for breakfast and should be encouraged. “Australians shouldn’t let myths about sugars turn them away from nutrient-rich core grain foods like breakfast cereals,” said Mr Feren.