Breakfast cereal and weight management in children and adolescents

Breakfast Cereal & Weight Management in Children & Adolescents

Overweight and obesity are widespread among all age groups in the Arab Gulf, and incidence is reported to be increasing. A review carried out by the World Health Organisation in 2008, reported the incidence of overweight to vary across the Arab Gulf, from around 11% of children in KSA to around 30% of children in Kuwait1.Obesity levels were reported to range from 6-15% of children across the region.1 Other data suggests that 36% of six to 18-year-olds in the UAE are either overweight or obese, including almost 70% of adolescents2, while between 69-84% of the adult populations in Kuwait, the UAE, KSA, and Bahrain are overweight or obese3. The escalating level of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents is of particular concern due to the increased risk of obesity and morbidity in adulthood. Experts consider the main underlying causes for this rise to be poor knowledge regarding food choices and a lack of physical activity1.

According to the results of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, children and adolescents who regularly have cereal for breakfast are less likely to be overweight and tend to have a lower BMI4. Evidence from two independent prospective cohorts, one intervention study, and 11 cross-sectional studies has shown that children and adolescents who consume breakfast cereals regularly have a significantly lower average BMI and are less likely to be overweight or obese than children and adolescents who consume breakfast cereals infrequently or not at all. Average BMI was lower by around 1 kg/m2 and the risk of overweight was reduced by at least 10% - and possibly by up to 50% - in those consuming breakfast cereals regularly. The effects were similar in children and adolescents.

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  1. Mirmiran P et al (2008) Childhood obesity in the Middle East: a review Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 16: 1009-1017
  2. Health Authority Abu Dhabi (2010) Eat Right Get Active Accessed on line August 2014 at:
  3. World Health Organisation (2010) Framework for the implementation of the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region Accessed on line August 2014 at:
  4. De la Hunty A et al (2013) Does Regular Breakfast Cereal Consumption Help Children and Adolescents Stay Slimmer? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Obesity Facts 6: 70–85