3rd December 2015: New Harvard research has found that a regular breakfast cereal habit is associated with living longer, healthier lives.1

The research examined the diets of 367,442 people followed up after 14 years, as part of the prospective National Institutes of Health AARP Diet and Health Study.

According to the researchers, it is the first time that consumption of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals has been significantly associated with a lower risk of total mortality and deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Importantly, the research carefully accounted for other dietary, lifestyle and social economic factors

The data showed that people with the highest intake of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals (22.5g/day, equivalent to four 40g serves a week) had the greatest risk reductions – 15% for all-cause mortality, 24% for cardiovascular disease, 13% for digestive cancer mortality and 10% for all cancer – compared to people who did not have ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. The researchers also found that among ready-to-eat breakfast cereal eaters, higher fibre intakes appear to be even more protective.

Breakfast cereals, including ready-to-eat, muesli and oats, are one of the main sources of fibre in Australian diets contributing 11% to daily fibre intakes.2

“This new research adds to a significant body of evidence supporting the benefits of a regular breakfast cereal habit,” said Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum Director, Leigh Reeve.

“Breakfast cereals are known to protect health and are an important contributor of essential nutrients in Australian diets. As well as fibre, they provide 43% of Australians whole grain intakes,3 and 18% iron, 19% thiamin, 13% folate and 13% riboflavin intakes and many other vitamins and minerals.2

“Scientific evidence consistently shows that regular breakfast cereal eaters tend to be healthier, slimmer and less likely to suffer from chronic disease than people who eat other breakfasts or eat no breakfast at all,4 ” said Ms Reeve.

The authors of the new Harvard research paper concluded that their findings lend support to the recommendation to increase consumption of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, especially varieties high in cereal fibre, to optimise health and prevent chronic disease.


  1. Min Xu MD, PhD, Tao Huang PhD, Albert W. Lee PhD, Lu Qi MD, PhD &Susan Cho PhD (2015): Ready-to-Eat Cereal Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality: Prospective Analysis of 367,442 Individuals, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.971193]
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12. Canberra: ABS; 2014.
  3. Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. 2014 Grains & Legumes Consumption & Attitudinal Study. Accessed 5 August 2015.
  4. Williams PG. The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base. Adv Nutr 2014; 5:636S-673S.
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