Kids’ Cereals: More Sugar than Dessert
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.
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.”
Dr. Andrew Weil weighed in on the findings, and 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.”
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.”
Dr. Nestle recommends that high-fiber, low-sugar cereals are best, and oatmeal makes for one of the best choices.