Before you pour your child a heapin’ bowl of sugary cereal, read this: The Environmental Working Group has just come out with its list of the 10 worst children’s cereals. Your child’s favorite might be on it.
At No. 1 is Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, coming in at 55.6% sugar by weight, followed by Post Golden Crisp at 51.9% and Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow at 48.3%. The list also includes, in descending order of sugar, Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch OOPS! All Berries (yes, that’s really the name), Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch original, Quaker Oats Oh!s, Kellogg’s Smorz, Kellogg’s Apple Jacks and Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries. In last place, a somewhat dubious achievement, is Kellogg’s Froot Loops original at 41.4% sugar by weight.
How much sugar is that? The report found that a cup of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp or General Mills Wheaties Fuel has more sugar at 18.7 to 20 grams than does a Hostess Twinkie, which comes in at 17.5 grams.
Also, not all cereal brands are created equal, at least when it comes to the sweet stuff. Original Cheerios, according to the report, is 3.6% sugar, while the Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate and Fruity varieties are 33% sugar.
The group also claims that only one-fourth of 84 children’s cereals tested met the voluntary proposed guidelines of the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketing, a group of federal nutrition, marketing and health experts brought together to make suggestions about the nutritional quality of food marketed to children and teens.
The voluntary proposed guidelines, says the Environmental Working Group, recommend that ready-to-eat cereals have no more than 26% added sugar by weight.
Sugar wasn’t the only problem found by the Washington, D.C.-based EWG, a nonprofit research and advocacy group focused on public health and the environment. Others were found to exceed proposed government nutrition guidelines: 10 cereals had more than 210 milligrams of sodium and at least 26 cereals were not predominantly whole grain.
The EWG’s report says that the Interagency Working Group’s guidelines could be even a little tougher and go for a 15% cap on added sugar and making that mandatory instead of voluntary.
The amount of added sugar children consume has come under fire in recent years as obesity rates among kids remain high. Juice, cereals, snacks and desserts are being scrutinized for added sugar content as well as other nutritional pitfalls such as saturated fat and sodium.
What’s a better breakfast for kids? The report says some popular brands of kids’ cereals meet nutritional guidelines: Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats (Unfrosted Bite Size, Frosted Big Bite, Frosted Bite Size and Frosted Little Bites), General Mills Cheerios original and General Mills Kix original.
Or you could ditch the cereal altogether and give your kids a breakfast of oatmeal with nuts and fresh fruit, plus nonfat or lowfat milk.
Do your kids ask for sugary breakfast cereals? Do you allow them in your house? Let us know.