To assess the efficiency of breakfast consumption patterns in terms of nutrient-to-cost comparisons.
Twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were collected and food items named were priced (prices from local grocery stores and restaurants were averaged). Three breakfast consumption groups were identified: restaurant foods (fast foods), ready-to-eat (RTE) cereal, and other foods.
Subjects consisted of 567 ninth-grade students (57% female, 86% white, mean age 14.8 years) in New Orleans, La.
Analysis of variance techniques were used to test statistical significance for total nutrient intake levels, intake levels of nutrients per 1,000 kcal, and nutrient intake levels per dollar spent. Groupings were determined using the Duncan test or pairwise comparisons.
Five percent of students ate a fast-food breakfast, 30% ate RTE cereal, and 65% ate other breakfasts. The mean cost of the breakfast meals was significantly (P<.0001) higher for the fast-food breakfast than for the RTE cereal breakfast and the other breakfast (fast>other=RTE). For every dollar spent, the RTE cereal and other breakfasts provided significantly more energy, carbohydrate, fiber, sugar, and protein than the fast-food breakfast. The other breakfast provided significantly (P<.001) more total and saturated fat per dollar than the fast-food or RTE cereal breakfasts. The RTE cereal breakfast provided significantly (P<.001) more, per dollar spent, of folic acid, iron, niacin, vitamins A and D, and zinc than the other 2 breakfast meals.
The importance consumers place on taste, cost, and convenience continues to influence types of foods consumed. Yet, their food choices may not be as efficient in terms of the nutrients obtained per dollar spent. With the increasing demands being placed on families and the decreasing amount of time being spent on food preparation, nutrition education programs should continue to promote a higher level of efficient food choices.