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Consumer Reports just released a comparison of children's breakfast cereals and offered a ranking of them. The cereals were examined based on calories, sugar, sodium, fat, and nutrient quality.
You can read the part of the report here. I did read the entire report and a few things I found interesting:
- 58% of "children's" cereals are consumed by adults. The leprechaun is obviously charming more than just the kids. For those of you who haven't been charmed, look at your own "adult" cereal and see how much sugar it has. You may be surprised that is has the same or more than the kid's cereal.
- The average American consumed 134 grams of added sugar daily in 2000, a 40% increase from the 1950's. Most cereals contain between 1 and 16 grams of added sugar per serving.
- When researchers watched kids pour their bowl of cereal, kids were pouring 50-65% more than the serving size suggested most often.
- These exact same brands of cereal are sold in Europe, but they contain 40% less sugar than the cereals in the US. Our taste pallets in the US are becoming accustomed to a lot of sugar, fat, and salt in our food. The companies add these ingredients to make their product taste better than the competitor's, but we as consumers are suffering.
- Two cereals had more than 50% sugar and 9 cereals had 40% sugar. That means that of all the ingredients in the cereal, a good percentage is just plain sugar.
- Many cereals have very little fiber. The 4 cereals that got the "Very Good" rating from Consumer Reports were Cheerios, Kix, Life, and Honey Nut Cheerios and all had at least 2-3 grams of fiber.
A cereal I don't mind is Frosted Mini-Wheats because it has 6 g of fiber. It got a "good" rating but not the "very good" from CR, but I would rank it very good for the fiber content.
What's for breakfast?
Half the battle with children is to get them just to eat breakfast and if their cereal will help them eat breakfast, let's give them cereal. However, instead of just giving into some of these really high sugar varieties, try mixing a lower sugar/higher fiber cereal with the one they like most that contains a lot of sugar.
Cereal is a great way to get milk into your kids, and you can easily throw some blueberries or sliced banana in the bowl, too. Look for cereals that contain whole grains, less than 12 grams of sugar, and at least 3 or more grams of dietary fiber. Limit portion size for children that are tending toward being overweight. Encourage drinking more milk or eating a piece of fruit to fill up instead of pouring more cereal.
Photo courtesy of Span Alaska Sales