Cheerios and Weight Loss Claims: Can You Lose Weight by Just Eating Cheerios?

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These days people seem to look for quick schemes to solve their overweight or obesity problem. Many diets pop now and then, and it seems that any kind of diet you could imagine can be found. Lately, there has been some claims that Cheerios can be used to lose weight in what is called the Cheerios Diet.

What is the Cheerios Diet?

It is very simple, but it seems unsustainable in the long run. Although you can find the details on the net, the Cheerios Diet consists of following two weeks of the following dieting regime:

  • Eat a one-cup (bowl) of Cheerios for breakfast and lunch
  • Add fresh fruit for flavor
  • You can substitute plain Cheerios for any Cheerios product (Banana Nut, MultiGrain, Yogurt Burst Vanilla, Honey Nut)
  • Use 1 percent or skim milk with your Cheerios
  • Eat a sensible dinner with protein as the main ingredient

Nutritional Content of the Cheerios Diet.

Let´s examine the nutritional content of a typical day in this diet. Assuming a person eats 1 bowl of cheerios, 1 apple (medium) and 1 cup of skim milk, this will give the following nutritional content: calories 489, protein 28 g, fat 9.1 g, and carbs 78 g. So if you do this for breakfast and lunch, you get about 1000 calories. A sensible dinner (meat and salad) will add an additional 400 calories. So, this equates to roughly 1400 calories in a day.

Cheerios and Weight Loss Claims

Cheerios has been around for long time (since 1941). It is ingrained in people´s mind, and many individuals have grown up eating this product for breakfast. Furthermore, since Cheerios is made of almost 100 percent oats and the fiber in oats has been associated with lowering blood cholesterol (or so is claimed on their boxes with some FDA approval), people have an image of Cheerios as a healthy, natural product.

However, to claim that this product may help a person lose weight by simply eating it is at least irresponsible. From the nutritional analysis performed above, it can be observed that the calories this diet provides could be in the range of 1400-1600 per day. This level of intake is too little for a normal person with normal activities. It is not sustainable because it will be difficult to maintain it for a long time. Also, there are no scientific studies that prove the Cheerios weight loss claims. Moreover, the FDA has warned the Cheerios manufacturer (General Mills, Inc) that it is misusing and misbranding the Cheerios products.

In plain English, the FDA is saying that Cheerios is branding the products as a medicine and not as a food. A health claim that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber reduces cholesterol is approved by the FDA. However, saying that you can lower your cholesterol by four percent if you eat Cheerios is simply not approved by the FDA.

Be aware of diets that claim rapid weight loss by following of a particular food. Weight loss is simple: eat less (of anything) and move more.


FDA: Don’t Advertise Cheerios as a Drug - ABC News

FDA Response to General Mills Addressing the Scientific Basis for Cheerios Cholesterol Claims: