A bowl of cereal is one of the stables of the American breakfast diet. Walk down the cereal isle at your supermarket, and you will see boxes with vibrant colors directing your eye to the cute cartoon character that you know so well with his innocent smile, screaming for you to add to the shopping cart. Although certain cereals marketed for adults can be a healthy breakfast option, a new report found that most cereals targeted at kids contain more than 50 percent sugar.
Researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed 1556 cereals, finding that 181 of them marketed to children contained added sugar. If a child eats a bowl of cereal everyday for a year, they would consume ten pounds of sugar.
EWG ranked the cereals by the sugar content by weight and them compared that data with the guidelines set by federal health agencies.
The national brands that contain the most sugar (and contain more than 50 percent sugar by weight) include Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs, Post Golden Crisp, Kellogg’s Apple Jacks with Marshmallows, and Kellogg’s Froot Loops with Marshmallows.
The research found that Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Gluten-Free, General Mills Cheerios, Post 123 Seasme Street C Is For Cereal, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, and Kellogg’s Crispix Cereal were the national brands that contained the least sugar.
The list also included store brand cereals that were contained high amounts of sugar, such as Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes that contains 88 percent sugar by weight.
The EWG report notes that serving sizes on cereal boxes are “unrealistically small,” causing people to eat more sugar than they might realize.
A typical serving of these cereals has just as much sugar as three Chips Ahoy! cookies. “EWG found that on average, 34 percent of the calories in children’s cereals come from sugar. For two-thirds of these cereals, a single serving contains more than a third of what experts recommend children consume in an entire day,” the report stated.
The Neuroscience Behavioral Review, along with other unrelated studies, have confirmed that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. It causes the body to produce more endorphins associated with pleasure, causing a high similar to that of addictive drugs. When the effects of sugar wears off, a low returns, which then causes sugar addicts to crave more. Research has found that sugar causes neuro-chemical changes of dopamine much like cocaine and heroin.
Children’s addicted to sugar is only fueling the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, 12.5 million American children (aged 2 to 19) are obese.
EWG’s report also made suggestions to avoid consuming too much sugar such as paying attention to food labels.
“Cereals can provide important nutrients that children need during critical times of growth and development – without all the added sugar,” the report stated. EWG suggested unsweetened oatmeal with fruit on the top as a healthy alternative.