BALTIMORE -- A multi-center study led by researchers at Maryland Medical Research Institute indicates eating cereal at breakfast “as part of an overall eating pattern that promotes maintenance of healthy body weights” may help adolescent girls maintain a healthy body mass index and adequate nutrient intake.

Using data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth Health Study, the researchers examined breakfast and cereal consumption of more than 2,300 girls over a 10-year period starting when they were nine or 10 years old. The researchers found that, as the girls moved through their teen years, their cereal consumption predicted a lower BMI regardless of their age. The researchers also found cereal consumption had positive effects on the girls’ nutrient intake, particularly in higher levels of calcium and fiber and lower levels of fat and cholesterol. In addition to nutrients contributed by cereal, the researchers suggest that other factors related to cereal consumption may have an impact on girls’ diets. For example, other healthful foods are usually eaten with cereal such as milk and juice and the cereal may replace other less nutritious food choices. The study was supported by General Mills Inc. and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and was published in the September issues of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.