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Health & Parenting

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Kids Who Often Eat Cereal Weigh Less

Cereal Eaters Have Less Body Fat Than Kids Who Skip Breakfast

Cereal, Milk, and Breakfast continued...

But when it comes right down to it, breakfast cereal itself is a good thing, says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD. Bonci -- pronounced BAWN-see -- is director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a nutritional consultant for several college and professional sports teams and dance companies. She was not involved in the current study.

"Breakfast cereals -- even the sweet ones -- have protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber," Bonci tells WebMD. "Yes, they have carbs, too, but they have lots of things that are good for kids. Usually there is very little fat in cereal, and sometimes they have fruit that kids wouldn't eat otherwise. It is a vehicle for a lot of other positive things happening in the diet, early in the day."

When kids or adults eat cereal, Bonci points out, they aren't eating doughnuts or sweet rolls -- which are little more than sugar and fat. Are there better things to eat than ready-to-eat cereal? Sure. But taken together with the facts that 1) it's breakfast, and 2) it's got milk, cereal looks pretty darn good.

"Without a doubt, by eating cereal for breakfast you are jump-starting the body and making it burn calories all day long, which keeps weight down," Bonci says. "And most kids aren't eating cereal out of their hands. They are taking it with milk. So now there is protein on the meal, and you are sitting down to eat. The body finds that more satisfying than grabbing a breakfast bar or Pop Tart and running out the door."

Making Kids and Parents Feel Better

But don't kids like those awful kinds of cereal that are full of bad stuff? Actually, Albertson says, kids like variety. She says General Mills' research shows that the average household with kids stocks about a dozen different brands of cereal. Not all of the favorites are super sugary.

"I talk to a lot of parents and they say, 'How can I put sweetened cereal on the table?'" Bonci says. "I say, well, you want your kids to eat breakfast. They like taste and fun. We can have best of both worlds: Mix plain cereal with sweetened ones. Sweet cereals still have the grain and nutrition and protein from milk."

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