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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: USDA NATIONAL NUTRIENT DATABANK FOR FOOD COMPOSITION

Location: Nutrient Data

Title: Recent trends in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals in the U.S.

Authors
item Thomas, Robin
item Pehrsson, Pamela
item Ahuja, Jaspreet
item Smieja, Erin -
item Miller, Kevin -

Submitted to: Procedia Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2013
Publication Date: May 29, 2013
Citation: Thomas, R.G., Pehrsson, P.R., Ahuja, J.K., Smieja, E., Miller, K.B. 2013. Recent trends in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals in the U.S.. Procedia Food Science. 2:20-26.

Interpretive Summary: Breakfast cereal manufacturers have been making efforts to improve the nutritional quality of their products, with claims of lower levels of sugar and sodium and higher levels of fiber and whole grains. Data for top-selling (Kellogg and General Mills) ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals within the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR) were examined to discern trends in these products, resulting from their reformulation. Mean values for total sugar, total dietary fiber, and sodium were calculated for those breakfast cereals within SR releases 18 (2005) through 24 (2011). Between those two years, sugar levels fell from 27.5 to 24.8 g/100 g and sodium from 511 to 438 mg/100 g, a reduction of 10% (not significant; p=.057) and 14% (p<.05), respectively. Fiber levels rose from 7.1 to 9.4 g/100 g, a 32% increase (p<.05). Whole grains were included in the ingredients of 78% of cereals examined in SR24. For a subset of 83 products included in both releases SR18 and SR24, comparisons were made using paired t-tests. Sugar and sodium levels decreased by 7.6% and 11.2%, respectively, while fiber levels increased by 13.4% (all p<.0001). Recent trends observed in this popular breakfast category demonstrate positive changes in the nutrient composition, which confirm manufacturer’s initiatives, and may have an important impact on public health. The research provides the scientific community, health professionals, and the public documentation and assurance of these trends. The nutrient data for breakfast cereals will continue to be updated and released in SR annually at www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata.

Technical Abstract: Data in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR) were examined to discern trends in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals resulting from manufacturers’ reformulations, many in response to public health concerns and consumer demand. The majority of the nutrient data for breakfast cereals in SR are supplied by manufacturers. Data for Kellogg and General Mills ready-to-eat cereals within SR were examined, as those brands represent 62% of the U.S. market. Mean values for total sugar, total dietary fiber, and sodium were calculated for those breakfast cereals within SR releases 18 through 24 (2005-2011). Values from SR18 (n=120) were compared to those from SR24 (n=151) using unpaired Student’s t-tests. Sugar levels fell from 27.5 to 24.8 g/100 g and sodium from 511 to 438 mg/100 g, a reduction of 10% (not significant; p=.057) and 14% (p<.05), respectively. Fiber levels rose from 7.1 to 9.4 g/100 g, a 32% increase (p<.05). Newer ingredients contributing to the increased fiber levels include corn bran and oat fiber. More emphasis is being placed on whole grain, with that term used in the ingredients of 78% of cereals examined in SR24. For a subset of 83 products included in both releases SR18 and SR24, comparisons were made using paired t-tests. Sugar and sodium levels decreased by 7.6% and 11.2%, respectively, while fiber levels increased by 13.4% (all p<.0001). Recent trends observed in this popular breakfast category demonstrate positive changes in the nutrient composition which may have an important impact on public health.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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