Is That Right? Mini-Wheats have double the fiber of Cheerios?
When my family saw the current ad for Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats the other night, we all guffawed. The commercial depicts what I guess is a boxing match between a great big Mini-Wheat and a tiny little Honey-Nut Cheerio. The message: Mini-Wheats have "more than double the fiber and whole grain in every tasty bite."
Well, duh! That Mini-Wheat is enormous. Of course it's going to beat that puny Cheerio in any kind of match up, right?
Let's look at our trusty Nutrition Facts panels. Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size cereal offers 6 grams of dietary fiber per serving, providing a healthy 24 percent of the Daily Value for fiber. There is no separate DV listing for whole grain, but "whole grain wheat" is listed as the first ingredient. (The ad doesn't specify whether the Mini-Wheat is of the Bite Size or Big Bite variety; the latter has 5 grams of fiber per 180-calorie serving.)
By contrast, Honey Nut Cheerios indeed offer but 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving, just 8 percent of the Daily Value. "Whole grain oats" is the top ingredient.
Wow, that's a big difference, right? No wonder the Mini-Wheat wins!
But a quick look at the portion size tells the rest of the story. Whereas a 110-calorie serving of Cheerios is 28 grams, the serving of Mini-Wheats, at 200 calories, weighs a whopping 59 grams! At more than twice the size by weight, you'd certainly expect the Mini-Wheats to have at least twice the fiber as the Cheerios. (That Big Bite variety weighs 51 grams per serving.)
Of course, the math still favors Mini-Wheats. Twenty-eight grams of them still would have about 3 grams of fiber (or 2.5 for the larger variety). But that's not double.
This more nuanced account appears in very tiny, hard-to-read type for a few seconds during the ad: "Contains 12% to 15% more of the Daily Value for fiber than Honey Nut Cheerios cereal. Kellogg's Mini-Wheats cereals have 5 to 6 grams of fiber (20% - 24% DV) and 40 grams to 45 grams whole grain per serving; Honey Nut Cheerios cereal has 2g fiber per 28g serving (8% DV) and at least 8 grams whole grain."
I contacted Kellogg's to help me sort all this out and received this response via e-mail:
Serving sizes are identified and regulated by the U.S. FDA. The FDA regulates comparison claims for certain nutrients and requires that comparisons be made based on the RACC or Reference Amount Customarily Consumed amount. Serving size is calculated based on the appropriate RACC for that specific product and varies per cereal based on density.
Keeping in line with the FDA's regulations regarding RACC, Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereals have five to six grams of fiber (20- 24 percent DV) and 40g to 49g of whole grain per serving; Honey Nut Cheerios cereal has 2g of fiber per 28g serving (8 percent DV) and at least 8 grams of whole grain. Therefore, a serving of Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereal provides more than double the fiber and whole grains per serving as a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios.
The Mini-Wheat-Cheerios contest is an excellent example of how careful you need to be when comparing products' Nutrition Facts: Be sure to check the portion size, which, despite the FDA's regulations, can seem a bit arbitrary. And be sure to do the math. That's the only way to ensure a fair contest.
(By the way, this is not the first time Is That Right? has had questions about Frosted Mini-Wheats. Read more here.)
Jennifer LaRue Huget
November 13, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness
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