9th May 2014: New data from the ABS Australian National Health Survey confirms that breakfast cereals are nutrient rich, and an important food that provides Australians with significant levels of essential nutrients while contributing low kilojoules and very little sugars and sodium.1

Director of the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturers Forum and Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Ms Leigh Reeve said the new data reinforced the value of a regular breakfast cereals habit for Australians.

“The data shows that breakfast cereals – including ready to eat and hot cereals – contribute significant levels of at risk nutrients to the diets of Australians. This includes being one of the highest sources of iron, contributing 17.6 per cent, as well as 13 per cent of the folate and more than 10 per cent of dietary fibre.

“At the same time, breakfast cereals are contributing just 4.6 per cent of kilojoules, 3.4 per cent of total sugars and less than 2.3 per cent of sodium intakes,” said Ms Reeve.

“In addition to the nutrients gained directly from breakfast cereal, milk consumed with breakfast cereal provides almost a third of the daily milk intake for Australian children.2 This is a vital dairy boost. We know Australians need to increase their low fat dairy consumption to meet dietary guideline recommendations.”

“This new data, in combination with a significant body of scientific evidence that shows that breakfast cereal eaters are more likely to have healthier weights and may have a reduced risk of lifestyle related disease such as heart disease and diabetes, demonstrates that a breakfast cereal habit is a five minute investment with enormous health returns,” said Ms Reeve.

A snapshot on breakfast cereals data from the Australian Health Survey

Breakfast cereal provides Australians aged 2 years and over with, on average:

  • 4.6 per cent of kilojoule intakes
  • 18.7 per cent of their daily Vitamin B1 (thiamin), 12.6% of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and 6.5% of their niacin intakes
  • 17.6 per cent of their iron intake and 13% of their folate intake
  • 10.6 per cent of their daily fibre intake
  • Less than 2.3 per cent of their sodium intake, and
  • Just 3.4 per cent of their total sugars intake.


  1. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Food and Nutrients, 2-11-12. Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  2. F Fayet, L Ridges, N Sritharan, P Petocz. Breakfast cereal consumption is associated with higher micronutrient and milk intake among AustralianAustralasian Medical Journal 2011 4(12):775.

Notes on the breakfast cereal data:

  1. In this information, breakfast cereals represents the sum of the data for ready-to-eat plus hot breakfast cereals.
  2. It is not possible to compare this breakfast cereal data with the previous National Nutrition Survey in 1995 as the breakfast cereal categories and the foods within each category are not the same.
  3. The major categories ‘Cereal and cereal products’ and ‘Cereal based products and dishes – do not mean breakfast cereal.
  4. The category ‘Cereal and cereal products’ includes grains, flours and products made from these such as rice, flours, starches, bread and buns (including garlic bread and filled/topped breads), English style muffins, pasta and filled pasta, instant noodles etc – breakfast cereal is a subset of this major category.
  5. The category ‘Cereal based products and dishes’ does not include breakfast cereal; does include sweet biscuits, savoury biscuits, cakes, scones, cake-style desserts, sweet pastries, savoury pastries (pies, sausage rolls etc), batters (pancakes, doughnuts etc), and mixed dishes where cereal ( i.e. grains or flour) is the main ingredient e.g. filled sandwiches, pizza, burgers, tacos, pasta dishes, sushi, fried rice.

Notes on the survey:

  1. This is the first release of data from the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, a component of the Australian Health Survey.
  2. It presents results from a 24-hour recall of food, beverages, supplements and some dietary behaviours for Australians aged 2 years and over. Approximately 9,500 private dwellings across Australia were surveyed.
  3. Sodium: The data for sodium overestimates the proportion of sodium intake contributed by specific food groups. This is because the data only includes sodium naturally present in foods as well sodium added during processing; it does not include salt added in home prepared foods or at the table and an estimated 64% of Australians report that they add salt at home either during meal preparation or at the
  4. Total sugars: Total sugars data includes the sugars naturally present in foods plus added sugars (e.g. honey, table sugar). There is no separate data available for added sugars.


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