• ready-to-eat cereal;
  • nutrient intake;
  • body mass index (BMI);
  • third School Nutrition and Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-III);
  • School Breakfast Program (SBP)

BACKGROUND: Children in the United States exhibit high rates of nutrient inadequacy and overweight/obesity; other international studies report similar associations. The School Breakfast Program (SBP) may help alleviate these conditions for youth in the United States. This research examined the association of ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereal consumption with students' (SBP participants and nonparticipants) dietary nutrient intake and weight status.

METHODS: Data were from the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-III), conducted in 2004-2005. Analyses included all 2298 SNDA-III participants (ages 5-18 years), who completed a dietary recall and whose parents completed an interview. Students were categorized as skipping versus eating breakfast; students eating breakfast were categorized by SBP participation (SBP participant vs nonparticipant) and breakfast type (with vs without RTE cereal). Analyses estimated the association of these categorizations with total daily nutrient intake and weight-related measures, after adjusting for covariates.

RESULTS: RTE cereal breakfast consumers (regardless of SBP participation) had greater intake of vitamin A, iron, and whole grain, compared with noncereal breakfast eaters. Breakfast consumers (regardless of SBP participation and type) had greater intake of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, and whole grain, relative to breakfast skippers.

CONCLUSIONS: The SBP increases opportunity for improved nutrient intake and healthier body weight through breakfast consumption, especially whole grain RTE cereals, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines 2010.