Breakfast is supposed to be a nutritious meal to start the day and is especially important for growing kids, but cereals containing too much sugar may not be the best option. Results were released this week from an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of more than 1,500 cereals for children and adults. The analysis included 181 breakfast cereals for which children are the target audience, including a re-examination of 84 of cereals studied and reported in 2011. Some of the cereals had an increased sugar content than they did in the previous study.
Kids’ cereals contain 40 percent more sugar than adults’ cereal on average. Researchers found that kids’ cereals consisted of 29 percent sugar. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks was at the top of the offenders list with 15 grams of sugar per serving, but it should be noted that the serving size on the label does not accurately reflect what people consume. Many breakfast cereals contain the same amount of sugar in just one serving as three Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies.
Numerous cereals contain one third of the total amount of sugar a child should consume in a whole day. Co-author of the report, nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, said “Kids already eat two to three times the amount of sugar experts recommend.” Unduragga also mentioned that breakfast cereals are one of the greatest sources of sugar in the diets of kids under eight years old. Cereal ranks after super-sweet treats like candy, ice cream, cookies, and sodas and fruit drinks. She went on to mention that the cereal manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could be doing more to protect the children who consume these sugar-laden products.
The report revealed that breakfast cereals containing too much sugar are serving it to children by the pound. According to the report, kids who eat a typical serving of children’s breakfast cereal consume more than 10 pounds of sugar in a year from that one source alone. It also revealed that many of these sugary breakfast cereals have nutritional claims, or point out the high fiber, whole grain, or vitamin and mineral content. This can detract parent’s attention from the high sugar content and persuade them to buy the cereal. Research Director for EWG, Renee Sharp, expressed her belief that parents may read nutritional values on the side of the cereal box and believe that they are feeding their children nutritious foods. This makes the information in the report that much more powerful in informing parents of what exactly they are buying for their children.
The FDA has been called on by the EWG to adjust cereal serving sizes to adequately reflect the current consumption information. The serving sizes have remained the same although FDA scientists estimate that on average, a person consumes 30 percent more than the serving size stated on the boxes of many cereals.
According to the EWG report, the lowest sugar cereals include Kellogg’s Crispix, General Mills Cheerios, Kellogg’s Gluten-Free Rice Krispies, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Post 123 Sesame Street C is for Cereal, and Kellogg’s Original Rice Krispies. These are better options for children because of their lower sugar content. To try to combat breakfast cereals that contain too much sugar, the EWG has some recommendations. Parents should purchase cereals with four grams or less of sugar per serving, or offer children other healthy options for breakfast like fresh fruit or hot cereal.
By Twanna Harps