To review systematically the evidence on breakfast cereal consumption and obesity in children and adolescents and assess whether the regular consumption of breakfast cereals could help to prevent excessive weight gain.Methods:
A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies relating breakfast cereal consumption to BMI, BMI z-scores and prevalence of obesity as the outcomes.Results:
14 papers met the inclusion criteria. The computed effect size for mean BMI between high consumers and low or non-consumers over all 25 study subgroups was -1.13 kg/m2 (95% CI -0.81, -1.46, p < 0.0001) in the random effects model, which is equivalent to a standardised mean difference of 0.24. Adjustment for age and publication bias attenuated the effect sizes somewhat but they remained statistically significant. The prevalence and risk of overweight was lower in children and adolescents who consume breakfast cereals regularly compared to those who consume them infrequently. Energy intakes tended to be higher in regular breakfast cereal consumers.Conclusion:
Overall, the evidence reviewed is suggestive that regular consumption of breakfast cereals results in a lower BMI and a reduced likelihood of being overweight in children and adolescents. However, more evidence from long-term trials and investigations into mechanisms is needed to eliminate possible confounding factors and determine causality.