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Do kids really prefer sugary cereals for breakfast?

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By Aimee Keenan-Greene


A spoonful of sugar may not be needed when it comes to getting kids to eat breakfast cereals.

A new study in today's journal Pediatrics says children will consume low-sugar cereals when offered, and they provide a superior breakfast option.

Its no surprise high-sugar cereals increase children's total sugar consumption and reduce the overall nutritional quality of their breakfast. 

The research by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, set up a taste test of sorts.  

They wanted to see the effects of serving high versus low-sugar cereals on the consumption of cereal, refined sugar, fresh fruit, and milk.  

Kids at a summer camp were randomly assigned to receive a breakfast that included a choice of 3 high-sugar cereals or low-sugar cereals, as well as low-fat milk, orange juice, bananas, strawberries, and sugar packets. 

After they finished breakfast, kids answered a survey about what they just ate.  Researchers then measured the amount and calories consumed of each food. 

The news was promising. Children who ate low instead of high sugar cereals were more likely to put fruit on their cereal, 54 percent vs 8 percent.

They consumed 7 percent more total calories from fresh fruit, 20 percent vs 13 percent. 

Children who had the healthier cereals ate just slightly more than 1 serving of cereal. Kids who ate high-sugar cereal ate significantly more than a serving, receiving almost twice the amount of refined sugar overall.   
The results also show children across the board reported "liking" or "loving" whatever thecereal they chose. Milk and total calories consumed did not differ significantly, just the source of the calories. 
Childhood obesity  has more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the CDC. Obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years stood at 19.6 percent in 2008. Obesity effects 18 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.

According to the recent report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight. 
Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states, and exceed 20 percent in 49 states including Washington, D.C. 
Colorado has the best rate of obesity, 18.9 percent, and Mississippi the worst, 32.5 percent -- topping the list for 5 years straight.
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