According to a review released this month by the Environmental Working Group of 84 popular children’s breakfast cereal brands, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, leads the list of the 10 worst children’s cereals.
A one-cup serving of the brand is loaded with more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, and one cup of any of the 44 other children’s cereals has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.
As a means of managing childhood obesity and propaganda geared toward children via advertising campaigns, Congress formed the Interagency Working Group in an effort to curb marketing of kids’ foods with too much sugar, salt and fat.
EWG has found that only one in four children’s cereals meets the government panel’s voluntary proposed guidelines, which recommend no more than 26 percent added sugar by weight. EWG has been calling for an even lower cap on the maximum amount of sugar in children’s cereals.
“When I went to medical school in the 1960s, the consensus view was sugar provided ‘empty calories’ devoid of vitamins, minerals or fiber,” said health expert Dr. Andrew Weil. “Aside from that, it was not deemed harmful.
“But 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.”
NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle said: “Cereal companies have spent fortunes on convincing parents that a kid’s breakfast means cereal, and that sugary cereals are fun, benign, and all kids will eat.
“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.”
According to the CDC, childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years, and approximately one in five American children is obese.
“It has been said that exploding rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in today’s children will lead them to be the first in American history to have shorter lifespans than their parents,” Weil said. “That tragedy strikes me as a real possibility unless parents make some dramatic changes in their children’s lives.”
Nutrition expert Marion Nestle recommends:
Cereals with little or no added sugars (added sugars are ingredients such as honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and malt syrup).
Among the best simple-to-prepare breakfasts for children are fresh fruit and high-fiber, lower-sugar cereals. Better yet, pair fruit with homemade oatmeal.
10 Worst Children’s Cereals
Based on percent sugar by weight
1.) Kellogg’s Honey Smacks 55.6%
2.) Post Golden Crisp 51.9%
3.) Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow 48.3%
4.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries 46.9%
5.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original 44.4%
6.) Quaker Oats Oh!s 44.4%
7.) Kellogg’s Smorz 43.3%
8.) Kellogg’s Apple Jacks 42.9%
9.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries 42.3%
10.) Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original 41.4%
Nature’s Path Organics