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Intake of whole grains associated with benefits, yet many people fall short of whole grain recommendations

Albertson et al. Whole grain consumption trends and associations with body weight measures in the United States: results from the cross sectional National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2012. Nutrition Journal (2016); 15:8. DOI: 10.1186/s12937-016-0126-4

Background: Dietary guidance in the United States (US) currently recommends that at least half of all grains consumed be whole grains. The focus on whole grains has resulted in increased consumer interest and demand, followed by greater availability of whole grain products in the marketplace. Whole grain intake is associated with protective effects, and it has been acknowledged that an inverse relationship exists between whole grain intake and measures of adiposity in adults; however, this relationship has not been consistently reported in children and adolescents.

Objective: Describe total and whole grain intake, and the major food sources of each, in the US over the past 12 years and determine the relationship between whole grain intake and measures of adiposity in adults and children.

Methods: To determine daily intakes of total and whole grain, the My Pyramid and Food Patterns Equivalents Databases were linked to dietary data for children (6 – 18 years; n = 15,280) and adults (19+ years; n = 29,683) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; 2001-2012). Group classifications were made based on average whole grain intake (0 ounce equivalents (oz eq)/day, > 0 - < 1 oz eq/day, and ≥ 1 oz eq/day) and within these groups, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and percent overweight/obese were identified. Regression and logistic regression analyses were used to assess relationships between adiposity measures and whole grain intake.

Results: In the US, from 2001-2012, whole grain intake increased modestly in both children and adults, but despite increases in whole grain intake, <1% of children and <10% of adults met recommendations for whole grain intake in 2011-2012. Yeast breads and ready-to-eat cereals were the top sources of whole grains. Total energy intake was higher in those consuming at least 1 oz eq of whole grains per day, compared to low or no whole grain intake, and the higher energy intake was accompanied by higher intakes of most macronutrients and micronutrients. From 2001-2012, BMI, WC, and percent overweight/obese and percent obese increased in both children and adults. After adjusting for covariates, a marginal, inverse relationship was established between whole grain consumption and measurements of BMI and WC, in both children and adults. Further, a lower percentage of children were overweight/obese or obese in the group who consumed at least 1 oz eq whole grain/day compared to those who did not consume whole grains, and a similar finding was reported for adults.

Conclusions: From 2001-2012, there were slight changes in the intake of total and whole grains, yet most people fall short of the recommendations for whole grains. Higher consumption of whole grains is associated with higher nutrient intake and an inverse relationship has been established between whole grain intake and measures of adiposity in children and adults.

Funding Source: General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition

Daily intake of fortified cereal boosts micronutrient intake and status in adolescent girls after 12 weeks

Powers et al. Fortified breakfast cereal consumed daily for 12 wk leads to a significant improvement in micronutrient intake and micronutrient status in adolescent girls: a randomized control trial. Nutrition Journal (2016); 15(69). DOI: 10.1186/s12937-016-0185-6

Background: Observational studies suggest that adolescents, particularly females, have low intake of some micronutrients and this may put them at higher risk for nutritional deficiencies. Poor micronutrient status in adolescents may potentially be partially attributed to a decline in regular breakfast consumption. It is hypothesized that regular consumption of breakfast cereal provides a potential opportunity to improve micronutrient intake and status.

Objective: Examine the effectiveness of fortified cereal, consumed in the morning or the evening, compared with unfortified cereal, to improve micronutrient intake and status in adolescent girls who skip breakfast regularly.

Subjects/Methods: Adolescent girls (16 – 19 years old), who reported skipping breakfast at least 4 days/week were recruited from schools and colleges in Sheffield, United Kingdom. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week intervention, eligible participants were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups in which they consumed 50 g fortified or unfortified cereal + 150 mL semi-skimmed milk, daily, in the morning or in the evening. Four-day food diaries and blood samples were collected to assess dietary intake and nutritional status, respectively. Statistical analysis (paired sample t test and two-way ANOVA) was conducted on data from 71 girls who completed the study.

Results: After 12 weeks of cereal consumption, girls who consumed unfortified cereal had higher intakes of vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and girls who consumed fortified cereal had higher intakes of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, D, niacin, folate, and iron, with significantly higher vitamin/mineral intake observed in the fortified group compared to the unfortified group at the end of the intervention (calorie intake did not differ between groups). Additionally, those who consumed fortified cereal had improvements in biomarkers of vitamins B2, B12, D, folate and iron, and fewer girls in the fortified cereal group would be considered in the ‘deficient’ range for vitamins B2, B12, and folate. Timing of consumption (morning vs. evening) did not impact micronutrient intake or status; however, those who consumed cereal in the evening had a small, but significant, increase in weight (approximately 1 kilogram) over the course of the intervention.

Conclusions: Twelve weeks of daily (morning or evening) cereal consumption by adolescent girls resulted in increased intakes of some micronutrients and greater increases were observed in those who consumed fortified cereals. Consumers of the fortified cereal also showed improvements in biomarkers of micronutrient status.

Funding Source: The Kelloggs Company of Great Britain

Children and Snacking

Parenting style may influence feeding strategies and snacking intake in young children

Boots et al. Managing young children’s snack food intake. The role of parenting style and feeding strategies. Appetite 92 (2015): 94–101. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.012

Background: Parents are influential in shaping eating behaviors of children. A child’s eating behavior can be controlled in a restrictive manner, where the parent monitors and limits intake of certain foods, or in a more covert manner, where the parent manages the environment and exposure to foods rather than the child. Restrictive feeding has been shown to negatively influence eating behavior in children. Levels of demandingness (actively monitoring child, maintaining structure in daily activities, and making demands consistent with the child’s level of development) and responsiveness (parent’s acceptance, affection, and involvement in child’s academic and social development) are used to describe general parenting styles and high levels of both dimensions may be associated with better child outcomes.

Objective: Investigate the influence of parenting style and parent feeding strategies on snacking intake in young children, using a large, socioeconomically diverse sample.

Subjects/Methods: Australian mothers (n = 611) and their children, aged 2 – 7 years old (292 girls and 318 boys), participated. An online food frequency questionnaire (‘Managing Kids Food’) was used to capture information about general parenting style (demandingness of and responsiveness to the child), parent feeding strategies (restrictive and covert), and children’s snack food intake (healthy vs. unhealthy). Multiple regression models were used to examine relationships among parenting styles, feeding strategies, and snack intake.

Results: The mothers who participated in the study were 35.7 ± 4.93 years old and 85% completed university, technical, or vocational school. Approximately 44.5% of the participants were considered to live in an area of socioeconomic disadvantage. Covert feeding strategies were associated with greater healthy snack intake and lower unhealthy snack intake, while the opposite was found to be true for restrictive feeding strategies. Lower demandingness and responsiveness from mothers were associated with greater healthy snack intake and higher maternal demandingness was associated with healthy snack intake in children.

Conclusions: The general parenting style of mothers may play a role in predicting the use of particular feeding strategies that can influence the types of snacks consumed by young children.

Snacking patterns of US children differ by age and time of day

Wang et al. Snacking among US children: Patterns differ by time of day. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2016; 48(6):369-375.e1. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.03.011

Background: Snacking is an important eating occasion for children and there is growing interest in the nutrient quality and contribution of snacks to the overall diet of children. Evidence suggests that snacking may differ between younger and older children.

Objective: Examine the energy and nutrient density of snacks that are consumed by US children in the morning (12:00 am–12:00 pm), afternoon (12:00 pm–6:00 pm), and evening (6:00 pm–12:00 am).

Methods: Self-reported food and beverage consumption during morning, afternoon, and evening snacking periods were analyzed for children (4–8 and 9–13 years; n = 3,647) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; 2009–2012).

Results: Most children (~96%) reported consuming a snack at least one time during the day, with the afternoon being reported as the most popular time period for snacking (75–80% of children reported snacking in the afternoon). Overall, in both age groups, snacks contributed 25% of daily calories and the highest number of calories came from the snacks and sweets food group (e.g. savory snacks, bars, bakery products, and other desserts). In addition to snacks and sweets, water, beverages, milk and dairy, and fruit were the most frequently consumed food groups. In children, 4–8 years old, morning snacks contributed less added sugar and more calcium compared to other snacking periods. At all time periods, the consumption of milk and dairy was lower in 9–13 year old children. For older children, savory snacks and sweetened beverages made a greater contribution to the energy intake from snacks.

Conclusions: Snacking accounts for a quarter of the caloric intake in children and the types of foods and beverages consumed appears to differ between younger and older children. Additional research is needed to assess the potential health impacts of snacking.

Breakfast & Cereal

Vitamin D needs in European populations

In 2014, Kellogg Europe partnered with the British Nutrition Foundation to convene scientists and influencers from 10 European countries to review the dietary intakes and status of vitamin D in the European population. The aim was to understand the scale of vitamin D deficiency in Europe and develop suggestions for solutions, including fortification of cereals and other foods. A recent publication summarizes the findings of the meeting.

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Ready to eat cereal is an important contributor to nutrient adequacy in children and adults.

A new study published in Nutrients demonstrates the importance of ready-to-eat cereal fortification in helping Americans get the nutrients they need. The researchers found that without fortification of cereal there would be significant increases in the number of children and adults with inadequate micronutrient intake. This research supports fortification as a tool to help Americans reach their nutrient goals.

In 2014, Kellogg Europe partnered with the British Nutrition Foundation to convene scientists and influencers from 10 European countries to review the dietary intakes and status of vitamin D in the European population. The aim was to understand the scale of vitamin D deficiency in Europe and develop suggestions for solutions, including fortification of cereals and other foods. A recent publication summarizes the roundtable findings.

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Extensive review on breakfast cereal shows numerous health benefits

A recent review of more than 230 original research publications has found consumption of breakfast cereal to be associated with several health benefits, such as digestive health, nutrient intake, body weight and metabolic health. The review, commissioned by the Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum, is one of the most comprehensive reviews ever completed on breakfast cereal. The Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum has created several infographics that summarize the major findings of the paper.

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Grains and ready-to-eat cereal a top source of fiber in the US diet

A recent study evaluated the diets of adults meeting their daily recommendation for fiber and found that grain foods are the top source of fiber in their diets. Furthermore, ready to eat cereal represents almost on quarter (23%) of the total grain foods eaten by these people.

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