Of Course Mikey Likes It: Kids’ Breakfast Cereals No Better than Cookies, EWG Research Finds


Half of each bite of some of the most popular children’s breakfast cereals is little more than sugar, cites new research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Breakfast cereals targeted at children, including Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Apple Jacks with Marshmallows measured as containing 50 percent sugar (by weight).

The report, entitled “Children’s Cereals: Sugar by the Pound” tested 1,556 cereals, including 181 specifically targeted at children. According to the findings, “on average, children’s cereals contain nearly as much sugar in a serving as three Chips Ahoy! cookies.” Over the course of a year, the report notes, eating a bowl of a kid’s cereal every day would equate to eating about ten pounds of sugar.

“It doesn’t help matters that children’s cereals are significantly more sugary than those marketed for adults,” EWG’s Press Secretary Jane Coaston said in a blog post. “On average, 34 percent of the calories in children’s cereals come from sugar. And despite widespread criticism by consumers and the scientific community, there has been limited progress in cutting the amount of sugar. Not one cereal on the list of worst offenders in EWG’s 2011 report, “Sugar in Children’s Cereals,” has lowered its sugar content.”

Even more startling than the discovery of the high sugar content, the research found that 11 out of the 13 most sugary breakfast cereals featured product packaging claims promoting their “nutrient content,” Coaston noted. “No wonder kids are gobbling two to three times the amount of sugar experts recommend.” The portion sizes were also understated, with some recommended serving sizes as few as just 12 bites.

The FDA currently has no set limit on how much sugar can be added to food products claiming to have nutritional benefits.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Mikael Wilman