The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health information non-profit, re-examined 84 cereals that it studied in a similar report in 2011, to study the value of sugar in children’s cereals. In the report, the EWG found that the sugar content of those cereals remained on average at 29 percent. The EWG said that the average daily intake of added sugar for children is two to three times the recommended amount.
To help reduce the incidence of obesity and other health problems, General Mills cut the sugar content in its cereals advertised to children on average by 16 percent since 2007. General Mills’ cereals advertised to children have 10 grams of sugar per serving. Some cereals have as low as 9 grams. Kellogg Company has cut the sugar in its top-selling children’s cereals by as much as 30 percent over time, and Kellogg added at least 3 grams of fiber to some of its cereals.
The nutritional value in children’s breakfast cereals has improved in recent years, but not as much as consumer health advocates would like.
David Ludwig, a professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Children’s Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, said that cereals can have a negative impact on a child’s entire diet. The consumption of too much sugar in the early morning can raise blood sugar and insulin levels quickly. This results in a nutritional crash later on, leading children to binge on candy and junk foods.
In an earlier study on cereal marketing, Yale researchers used a Nutritional Profiling Index (NP) to examine cereals that had the most nutritional value. The Index also provides an overall nutrition score for a product based on its total calories and mix of healthy and unhealthy ingredients (like sugar, sodium, and fiber). Cereal companies reportedly don’t agree on the standards used in the Nutritional Profiling Index.
A proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could require companies to list the added sugar content on the nutrition facts panels on packaged foods. Do you agree that companies should be required to change their nutritional facts panel?