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What’s in the Bowl? Breakfast staple packs big nutritional punch for morning meal


It’s an item 90% of Canadians have in their cupboards and it’s one that – when eaten regularly – is associated with an increased likelihood of meeting daily nutrient targets and maintaining healthier body weights[1][2][3].   But, according to the results of a national poll, four in 10 Canadians are missing out on eating this pantry staple.

What is it? The answer is cereal, and according to the results of a national poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Breakfast Cereals Canada, 38% of Canadians chose not to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast within the past week, with one in ten saying they never eat cereal at all.

That doesn’t mean Canadians don’t know cereal is good for them: when given a list of words they associate with cereal, 46 per cent cited “fibre”, 40 per cent mentioned “whole grains” and 33 per cent responded “nutritious.”

“That Canadians recognize the important place cereal holds in their diet is a good first step,” says Lydia Knorr, a registered dietitian in Toronto. “But when they were polled about why they’re not eating cereal, there were some misperceptions in the role cereal can play within a healthy diet.”

Indeed, when asked which factors would lessen the likelihood of buying or eating cereal, “too much sugar” was the most commonly cited factor with 41 per cent saying sugar is a deterrent. “Too expensive” was the next most common reply (35%) followed by “too many preservatives” (24%), artificial colours (23%) and “it’s a processed food” (18%).

“As a dietitian, it makes me happy to hear that consumers are taking factors such as sugar and additives in their foods seriously and want to know more,” says Knorr, herself a mother of three. “But what many people don’t realize is that cereals can provide more iron, folic acid, zinc, B vitamins and fibre than other conventional breakfast choice.”

For those concerned about sugar, studies have shown that when looking at overall dietary intake, sugar from breakfast cereals – even pre-sweetened brands – accounts for less than five per cent of overall sugar in people’s diets[4]. Sodium from cereal contributes just three per cent of the average Canadian intake[5].

Meanwhile, research has shown that because breakfast cereal is almost always served with milk, having a bowl can help kids get closer to meeting the Canada Food Guide recommendation of three milk servings a day – a target on which more than half of kids over 10 years of age fall short[6].   And, with the average price of cereal (including milk) at just 53 cents per serving, it’s an economical choice as well[7].

If you want to know more about what’s in your cereal bowl, visit or connect on Facebook (  And, for every ‘share’ of the website or  Facebook page, Breakfast Cereals Canada is giving one bowl of cereal to Food Banks Canada up to a maximum of $25,000.


[1] Barr SI et al. Breakfast consumption is positively associated with nutrient adequacy in Canadian children and adolescents. 2014. BJN (in press)

[2] Barr SI et al. Consumption of Breakfast and the Type of Breakfast Consumed Are Positively Associated with Nutrient Intakes and Adequacy of Canadian Adults. 2013;143:86-92.

[3] De la Hunty A, Ashwell M. Are people who regularly eat breakfast cereals slimmer than those who don’t? A systematic review of the evidence. BNF Nutr Bulletin.2007;32:118-28

[4] Langlois K & Garriguet D. Sugar consumption among Canadians of all ages. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 82-003-XPE ,Health Reports, Vol 22, no 3, September 2011. (

[5] Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (2004)

[6] Statistics Canada, 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)

[7] Calculation based in part on data reported by Nielsen through its MarketTrack Service for the milk and cereal categories for the 52-week period ending April 5, 2014, for the National market and Grocery Banner + Drug + Mass Merchandizer channel. Copyright © 2014, The Nielsen Company.