Kids’ Cereal – High in Sugar, Low in Fiber [New Report]

USA Today has two stories out about a recent research project by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The findings were presented in Washington DC as part of the annual meeting of the Obesity Society. Here’s what they found:

Cereals marketed to kids have 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber and 60% more sodium than those aimed at adults!

Some more interesting facts:

•The least nutritious cereals are  the most heavily marketed to children – Reese’s Puffs, Corn Pops, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cap’n Crunch.

•Some of the products with the poorest nutrition ratings have health claims on the boxes.

•The average preschooler sees 642 TV cereal ads a year; most are for types with the worst nutrition ratings.

•Cereal companies spend more than $156 million a year marketing to children.

This study shines an even brighter light on the ludicrous Smart Choices Program, terminated this weekend, which elevated candy breakfasts such as Froot Loops and Apple Jacks to a “nutritious” status.

As Expected, the major cereal manufacturers have an answer though:

General Mills spokeswoman Heidi Geller says kids who eat cereal more frequently, including pre-sweetened cereals, “tend to weigh less than kids who eat cereal less frequently — and they are better nourished.”

The Rudd center put together a great website called Cereal Facts, that lets parents search cereals by name or manufacturer, and then receive a nutrition ranking, including information about the product.

What to do at the supermarket:

Look for cereals that are high in fiber (3 grams and up per serving), low in sugar (less than 6 grams), and low in sodium (less than 120mg). If your kids complain that they are not sweet enough – you can always add a spoonful of honey, maple syrup, or sugar to the milk.

Click here for a list of the top 10 cereals according to Cereal Facts. In the list are shredded wheat products from Kashi, Barbara’s Bakery, Nature’s Path and the big players too.

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  • Carol

    Wow. They needed to fund a study to figure this out?

    FDA still doesn’t have a definition for “low sugar,” so it’s like saying “low carb,” meaning a product can’t use that claim and there is no standard/recommendation.

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