When it comes to breakfast cereals, give kids a choice

New research conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (January 2011 issue of Pediatrics) suggests that, when given the option, kids will actually choose healthier foods, for breakfast at least.

In the study, researchers divided 91 kids from a summer camp program into two groups.  The first group was offered a high-sugar cereal (defined as 11-12 grams of sugar per serving) and the second group was offered a low-sugar cereal (defined as 1-4 grams of sugar per serving.)  Both groups were given their choice of low-fat milk, orange juice, table sugar, and fruits like strawberries and bananas.

When the kids' choices were analyzed, the ones who were offered the low sugar cereals were more likely to add fruit to their cereal (54% vs 8%) and they also consumed less cereal overall (slightly more than a serving vs almost two servings).  The finding of note, especially for parents, is that a majority of kids in both groups reported "liking" or "loving" their breakfast choices. 

The bottom, and perhaps not surprising, line is that sugary cereals promote higher consumption of refined sugars, reduced consumption of fresh fruit, and higher intake of calories overall.  Parents, thus, should realize that they can still please their little ones' palates without putting them on the fast-track to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

For more interesting articles, abstracts, and information about kids and food, check out the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For some information about breakfast cereals, there is a comprehensive listing in an article called How to Pick a Breakfast Cereal by Diana Mirkin on Drmirkin.com.
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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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