Some Kids’ Cereals Are More Than Half Sugar

sugar and cereal

Cereals aimed at children now contain more refined sugar than most desserts.

Refined sugars are toxic if too much is eaten. This has been the conclusion of a number of studies on refined sugar. Now we find there is so much sugar in kids’ cereals that they match the amount of sugar in a rich dessert.

Research has showed that refined sugar increases the risk of cancer. Refined sugars also boost our bad cholesterol levels.

Sugar in cereals studied

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group have found that most children’s cereals contain more sugar than a twinkie or several cookies, and only 25% meet the government’s panel’s guidelines for sugar content.

While the guidelines recommend no more than 26% sugar content by weight, some of the national brands have as much as 56% sugar content by weight.

The worst cereals, according to the study, were Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp, Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch and Quaker Oats Oh!s, respectively. The sugar by weight ranged from 55.6 percent in the Honey Smacks to 44.4 percent in the Oh!s. Froot Loops Marshmallow had 48.3 percent sugar by weight.

Dr. Jane Houlihan, EWG’s Senior Vice President of Research, was surprised with the results. “As a mom of two, I was stunned to discover just how much sugar comes in a box of children’s cereal. The bottom line: most parents would never serve dessert for breakfast, but many children’s cereals have just as much sugar, or more.”

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Dr. Andrew Weil weighed in on the sugar findings, and refined sugar in general. “50 years of nutrition research has confirmed that sugar is actually the single most health-destructive component of the standard American diet. The fact that a children’s breakfast cereal is 56 percent sugar by weight – and many others are not far behind – should cause national outrage.”

Obesity and refined sugar

While many might not be surprised by the study results, there is a connection between the sugar content in today’s American diet and obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five children is now obese in the U.S., and about one in three adults is obese. Childhood obesity has tripled in three decades.

Today a majority of packaged foods contain sugar as a principal ingredient. Even many so-called natural products contain “evaporated cane juice” – another name for sugar.

While food manufacturers are compelled to add sugar to enhance flavor, they are contributing to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes – both linked to sugar consumption.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, commented on the EWG study, which listed ten nationally ranked cereals as having over 41% sugar content by weight. “The cereals on the EWG highest-sugar list are among the most profitable for their makers, who back up their investment with advertising budgets of $20 million a year or more. No public health agency has anywhere near the education budget equivalent to that spent on a single cereal. Kids should not be eating sugar for breakfast. They should be eating real food.”

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Dr. Nestle recommends that high-fiber, low-sugar cereals are best, and oatmeal makes for one of the best choices.

Learn the best sugar alternatives and the most scientifically healthy diet:


Sugar in Children’s Cereals: Best and Worst Cereals. Environmental Working Group, December 12, 2011


Case Adams, PhD

Case Adams has a Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences, is a California Naturopath and is Board Certified as an Alternative Medicine Practitioner, with clinical experience and diplomas in Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling, Homeopathy and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 27 books and numerous articles on print and online magazines. Contact: [email protected]

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