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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Some breakfast cereals that are overly fortified with nutrients like vitamin A, zinc, and niacin may actually pose health risks to children because the foods are fortified to provide an adult’s recommended intake of those nutrients. These are the findings of a report by the Environmental Working Group, a health advocacy organization that says millions of American children are eating overly fortified cereals every day. Part of the problem, the group says, is that nutrition labels are not age-specific–and higher nutrient levels on cereal packages may actually sway parents’ purchasing decisions because they think the products are healthier for their kids.
More from USA Today:
Only “a tiny, tiny percentage” of cereal packages carry nutrition labels that list age-specific daily values, Sharp says. “That’s misleading to parents and is contributing to the problem.”
The daily values for most vitamins and minerals that appear on nutrition facts labels were set by the FDA in 1968 and haven’t updated, she says, making them “wildly out-of-sync” with currently recommended levels deemed safe by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.
Getting adequate amounts of all three nutrients is needed to maintain health and prevent disease, but the report says that routinely ingesting too much vitamin A can, over time, lead to health issues such as liver damage and skeletal abnormalities. . High zinc intakes can impair copper absorption and negatively affect red and white blood cells and immune function, and consuming too much niacin can cause short-term symptoms such as rash, nausea and vomiting, the report says.
Image: Cereal bowl with milk, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 16th, 2014
The cereal aisle is often the site of parent-child debates over colorful, sugar-laden brands. But parents may be surprised to learn that “sugary” doesn’t really describe a number of options–the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has analyzed more than 1,500 breakfast cereals and identified a dozen that contain more than 50 percent sugar by weight. Children’s cereals contain the highest percentage of sugar as a group–34 percent–and many of the worst offenders are actually store brands, the group found. EWG also estimates that American kids will consume 10 pounds of sugar each year at the breakfast table.
Here is the EWG’s “Hall of Shame” list of the worst offenders. A single serving of these cereals represents at least half of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar limit for kids:
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (56% sugar by weight)
- Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs (56%)
- Mom’s Best Cereals Honey-Ful Wheat (56%)
- Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch with Marshmallows (53%)
- Post Golden Crisp (52%)
- Grace Instant Green Banana Porridge (51%)
- Blanchard & Blanchard Granola (51%)
- Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes (88%)
- Lieber’s Honey Ringee Os (67%)
- Food Lion Sugar Frosted Wheat Puffs (56%)
- Krasdale Fruity Circles (53%)
- Safeway Kitchens Silly Circles (53%)
Running just behind the top 12 are Apple Jacks with Marshmallows (50%), and Froot Loops with Marshmallows (48%), both of which are produced by Kellogg’s.
For less sugary options, the EWG identifed these 10 brands as having the least amount of sugar per serving:
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Gluten-Free (1g)
- General Mills Cheerios (1g)
- Post 123 Sesame Street, C Is For Cereal (1g)
- Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (3g)
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (4g)
- Kellogg’s Crispix Cereal (4g)
- Springfield Corn Flakes Cereal (2g)
- Valu Time Crisp Rice Cereal (3g)
- Roundy’s Crispy Rice (4g)
- Shop Rite Scrunchy Crispy Rice (4g)
The EWG recommends that parents read the Nutrition Facts labels carefully and choose cereals with the lowest sugar content. “Look for cereals that are low-sugar [no more than a teaspoon (4 grams) per serving] or moderately sweetened [less than 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) per serving],” the report recommends. Better yet, it suggests, prepare breakfast from scratch, using whole grains like quick-cooking oatmeal and real fruits like bananas.
Earlier this week, Kellogg Co announced plans to drop “All Natural” and “100 Percent Natural” labels from some of its Kashi and Bear Naked products in response to a lawsuit that alleged fraudulent use of those terms.
Click here for more healthy breakfasts on-the-go inspiration!
Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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American Heart Association, breakfast, cereal, Cheerios, Environmental Working Group, General Mills, Kellogg, nutrition, Post, store brands, sugar | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Nestle and General Mills, which are part of a parent company called Cereal Partners Worldwide and the second-largest cereal producers in the world, have announced a massive new plan to cut the amount of salt and sugar in their cereals…outside of the United States and Canada.
Twenty cereal brands popular with children and teenagers will be part of the initiative, as the companies pledge to cut 24 percent of the sugar and 12 percent of the salt in the products, Reuters reports. The move follows a 2003 program in which the companies increased the nutritional profile of their cereals, including making large cuts in salt and sugar. From Reuters:
CPW Chief Executive Jeffrey Harmening said the plan builds on efforts started in 2003 to improve the nutritional profile of cereals. The group has cut almost 900 tonnes of salt and more than 9,000 tonnes of sugar from its recipes since then.
“A certain number of moms don’t want their kids to have as much sugar as they do right now, so that is a barrier for some to purchasing breakfast cereal,” Harmening told Reuters at CPW’s new global innovation centre in the Swiss town of Orbe.
The move comes as food and beverage companies seek to preempt tougher regulation due to the global obesity epidemic by offering healthier products or smaller portions.
The World Health Organisation estimated there were over 42 million overweight children under the age of five in 2010. It says obesity in Europe is already responsible for up to 8 percent of health costs and up to 13 percent of deaths.
Image: Cereal, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Two types of cancer that affects children have declined in frequency since more pregnant women started taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy and folic acid has been added to grain products like cereals, a new study has found. The benefit is in addition to the number of neural tube defects that are known to be prevented by the supplement. The New York Times has more:
The study, published online May 21 in Pediatrics, found no difference in the incidence of all childhood cancers combined. But for two types, the difference was significant.
The incidence of primitive neuroectodermal tumors, a nervous system lesion, declined by 44 percent, while the incidence of Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer, declined by 20 percent.
The scientists acknowledge that no causal relationship can be inferred from the finding. Still, the lead author, Amy M. Linabery, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, said, “We feel that this is a positive message — folic acid fortification is not increasing rates of cancer.”
She continued: “We’ve generated some new hypotheses, but we need follow-up studies.”
Image: Pregnant woman with vitamins, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Dr. Travis Stork, one of the hosts of the daytime television show “The Doctors,” was quoted this week in a press release saying he is “passionate about choosing products with whole grain as the first ingredient.” As The Boston Globe’s health blogger Deborah Kotz writes, the release came from the packaged foods company General Mills, which makes such sugary cereals as Trix and Lucky Charms. Kotz writes:
In a phone interview, Stork acknowledged that he was being paid by General Mills to promote whole grains but emphasized that this didn’t mean he was “endorsing General Mills” or telling parents to buy the company’s Lucky Charms, Trix, or Cookie Crisp — even if they do have whole grain as the first ingredient.
“I’m a spokesperson for whole grains,” said the emergency room physician who became famous after appearing on the reality show The Bachelor. “But I also think we should reward companies that increase the nutritional profiles of their products.”
One glance at the nutrition facts label of Trix, however, tells me that General Mills hasn’t done much to improve the cereal. While whole grain corn is the first ingredient, sugar is the second, processed corn meal is the third, and corn syrup (another sweetener) comes fourth. The product contains 10 grams of sugar — down from 13 grams last year — and just one gram of fiber.
“What whole grains do is that they give you more fiber, which makes you feel full longer and also slows the absorption of sugar,” said Stork.
When I pointed out that the General Mills’ sugary kid cereals labeled whole grain had just one or two grams of fiber, he responded, “You’re raising a valid point, which is why I tell people to read the nutrition label.”
Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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