Research by Roy Morgan indicates
almost a quarter of Australians say they rarely have time for breakfast. Skipping the first meal of the day has been linked to reduced intake of calcium and dietary fibre.
Tapping into consumers’ increasing demand for meals on the go,
liquid breakfasts touting health claims such as "high in fibre" are a growing category in the shopping aisles.
Sanitarium’s Up&Go has ruled the market since its launch 15 years ago,
selling 34 million litres through supermarkets in the past 12 months
alone, other manufacturers have since entered the battle for shelf space.
CHOICE reviewed 23 products across six brands, looking at their
ingredients, nutrients and sometimes unfounded assertions.
How do the claims stack up?
Fibre With claims such as “high in fibre”, “fibre for digestive health”, the “goodness of three
grains” – you’d be forgiven for thinking the products are, well, high in fibre.
But the industry’s own voluntary Nutrient Claims Code of Practice allows products with as little as 1.5g of fibre per serve to claim they are a “source of fibre”.
In January, a new
food standard to regulate nutrition content claims on food labels was
introduced, with manufacturers given three years to comply. Under the new standard, a product will be required to contain at least four grams of fibre per serve before
it can claim to be a good source of fibre.
Sanitarium - whose Up&Go
products claim to be high in fibre yet have under four grams per serve - is one of
several manufacturers that have much to change before the 2016 deadline.
CHOICE considers breakfast products with at least 20% fibre
as being very high in that nutrient, those
more than 10% as high, and those with
less than five per cent as low.
Of the products we analysed,
all fell far short of the five per cent
mark, with Aldi’s Goldenvale
Quick Start coming in at just 2.3% fibre. Dairy Farmers’ Oat Express products
were the lowest ranked, with just 1.2%.
Accredited practising dietitian Melanie
McGrice says these numbers are very
disappointing given breakfast is
traditionally the meal with the
highest fibre content.
Protein Similarly misleading claims can
be found around protein. Come 2016,
a product must offer at least 10g per
serve before it can claim to be a good
source of protein. Kellogg’s Nutrigrain
and Coco Pops breakfast drinks
both make this claim, but their protein
levels come in at 9.5g and 9.8g per serve
respectively. Vitasoy’s VitaGo banana
and honey, chocolate, and vanilla drinks
also spruik their protein levels, yet fall
below what will be required.
Soluble vs insoluble fibre
Found in fruits,
vegetables, oats, dried
beans and lentils, soluble fibre
dissolves in water and works to
lower blood cholesterol and
glucose levels. Insoluble fibre –
the type found in wholegrains,
the outer skins of fruit and
vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds –
promotes digestion and a healthy bowel.
The fibre listing on the nutritional panel
doesn’t distinguish between soluble and
insoluble, but it’s important to note they
have different roles.
To receive the greatest health benefit, the
Dietitians Association of Australia
recommends we eat at least 30g
of a wide variety of fibres each
Inulin, a starchy
derived from chicory
root, is a favoured
choice of soluble fibre
in liquid breakfasts,
known for its ability
to add a smooth mouthfeel without
unwanted taste or texture.
Devondale, Kellogg’s, Sanitarium
and Vitasoy all use it in their products.
McGrice says the growth of inulin as
a dietary fibre in processed food places dietitians in a difficult situation. “If you’re going to skip meals, a drink is better than nothing,” she concedes. “However, I certainly don’t want to
advocate that it’s fine to drink these
products every day.”
Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton is
even less convinced. “I really believe the
jury is still out as to whether inulin has
the same benefits,” she says. “It is a form
of soluble fibre, but whether or not it is
equivalent to wholegrain fibre I think
is very much in doubt.”