Cereal makers paid for studies pushing the idea that breakfast can keep us thin. (AP)

Cereal makers paid for studies pushing the idea that breakfast can keep us thin. (AP)

A boy digs into Frosted Flakes. Are they “grrrrreat” for you? (AP)

A boy digs into Frosted Flakes. Are they “grrrrreat” for you? (AP)

Toucan Sam says, “follow your nose”—to the ingredient label? (AP)

Toucan Sam says, “follow your nose”—to the ingredient label? (AP)

Cereals at a show where company representatives explain their products' health benefits (AP)

Cereals at a show where company representatives explain their products' health benefits (AP)

Science behind the Cereal

Posted: March 1, 2017

If you’ve ever seen a commercial for the breakfast cereal Froot Loops, you probably recognize Toucan Sam. You might also remember the motto Sam calls out while searching for Froot Loops. “Follow my nose!” he says. “It always knows!” For a long time, cereal companies have made big claims about breakfast. But now reporters are following their noses too. Is breakfast, especially cereal, as good for people as cereal companies claim? As another Kellogg’s mascot might say, Is it really so “grrrrrreat”?

The cereal company Kellogg’s makes Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, and Special K, to name a few cereals. In the 1990s, Kellogg’s put a message on Special K boxes. It said that people who didn’t normally eat breakfast lost more weight after they started doing so. For people who need to become healthier by losing weight, that sounds great. But the message isn’t quite honest. The research showed more information than that. In reality, regular breakfast-eaters who quit eating breakfast lost more weight than people who kept eating breakfast! Kellogg’s paid the researchers for the data, then used the information to tell half the truth. This half-true idea probably made more and more people buy breakfast cereal.

Kellogg’s wants people to buy lots of breakfast because it means more money for the company. The cereal-maker may appear to have been doing a good thing (helping people lose weight). But it seems it actually twisted information for its own gain.

Is breakfast really good for you? It can be.

It can give you fuel to do a good day’s work. But no one has proven that breakfast cereal gives you the best start. The human body and its needs are very complex. Here’s a tip. Before you follow someone’s nutrition advice, follow your nose to the source. Who paid for the research? Will that person or company make money if you follow the advice?