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.
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Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock