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Breakfast cereals pack in the sugar

In Health & Lifestyles on December 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm

By: Morgan Deal

Cereals on the "danger list" include popular names like Froot Loops, Cap'n Crunch and Honey Smacks. Photo courtesy of Google images

            Everyone remembers the brightly colored boxes of fun cereal from their childhood. However, recent studies have shown that these cereals that claim to be part of a balanced breakfast can contain more sugar than some desserts.

            The government recommends that cereals have less than 26 percent added sugar by weight. These guidelines, designed to help stop childhood obesity, are not mandatory. However, the report provided by the Environmental Working Group stated that only one in four cereals adhere to this guideline, with most popular cereals containing more than 40 percent added sugar. Cereals on the “danger list” include popular names like Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch and Honey Smacks. “Our children deserve better,” Environmental Working Group representative Rosa DeLauro says.

            Some cereals are reported to have more sugar than a Twinkie or Chips Ahoy cookies per cup, while a typical serving of cereal is ¾ of a cup. Cereals with the highest sugar levels had about 12-19 grams of sugar per cup, while a Twinkie has 18 grams, and Chips Ahoy cookies have 11 grams in three cookies. The fact that most children have more than one serving of cereal at one time also adds to their sugar intake from these high-sugar foods. Jeannie Mooloo, spokesperson for the American Diabetic Association, comments, “My 9-year old would eat three servings in one sitting if he could.”

            Big-time cereal companies are notorious for advertising to children of a younger age. Marion Nestle, nutrition professor at NYU, says that companies tend to imply that their cereals are “fun” in an attempt to get young children to eat them. Responding to this, several companies such as General Mills and Kellogg have stated that they will reduce the amount of advertising they do on unhealthy foods. Quaker Oats Company commented that Cap’n Crunch, fourth on the list, includes essential vitamins and minerals and could be a low-fat option for breakfast if paired with the right foods. Kellogg’s claims that they have reduced sugar added to their cereals by 16 percent.

            “I only give him [my 9-year old] sugary cereals once in a while. He wants them all the time, so it’s a real battle,” Mooloo says. Healthier cereal options include Rice Krispies and Cheerios, which clock in with less than five grams of fat per serving. Kellogg’s Mini Wheats and General Mills Kix are also low sugar options. Breakfast cereals can be a perfectly healthy option in the morning, just be aware of what the labels say.

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