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Breakfast cereals substantially contribute to daily energy and nutrient intakes among children. In New Zealand, new regulations are being implemented to restrict nutrition and health claims to products that meet certain 'healthy' criteria. This study investigated the difference in nutritional quality, labelling and promotion between 'healthy' and 'less healthy' breakfast cereals, and between breakfast cereals intended for children compared with other breakfast cereals on the New Zealand market. The cross-sectional data collection involved taking pictures of the nutrition information panel (NIP) and front-of pack (FoP) for all breakfast cereals (n = 247) at two major supermarkets in Auckland in 2013. A nutrient profiling tool was used to classify products into 'healthy'/'less healthy'. In total 26% of cereals did not meet the 'healthy' criteria. 'Less healthy' cereals were significantly higher in energy density, sugar and sodium content and lower in protein and fibre content compared with 'healthy' cereals. Significantly more nutrition claims (75%) and health claims (89%) featured on 'healthy' compared with 'less healthy' cereals. On the 'less healthy' cereals, nutrition claims (65%) were more predominant than health claims (17%). Of the 52 products displaying promotional characters, 48% were for 'cereals for kids', and of those, 72% featured on 'less healthy' cereals. In conclusion, most breakfast cereals met the 'healthy' criteria; however, 'cereals for kids' were 'less healthy' and displayed more promotional characters than other cereal categories. Policy recommendations include: food composition targets set or endorsed by government, strengthening and enforcing current regulations on health and nutrition claims, considering the application of nutrient profiling for nutrition claims in addition to health claims, introducing an interpretative FoP labelling system and restricting the use of promotional characters on 'less healthy' breakfast cereals. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





253 - 260