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Three Popular Children’s Cereals Contain More Sugar Than a Twinkie

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday December 9th, 2011 | 1 Comment

An Environmental Working Group (EWG) review of 84 popular cereal brands found that three popular children’s cereals contain more sugar than a Twinkie. The three offending cereals are Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, which tops the EWG list of worst offenders, Post Golden Crisp, and General Mills Wheaties Fuel. A Twinkie contains 17.5 grams of sugar, but the three cereals contain 18.7 to 20 grams of sugar. As my German grandmother used to say, “Mein Gott!”

The EWG review also found that one cup of any of 44 children’s cereals, including Honey Nut Cheerios, has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy cookies (11 grams). One cup of 56 different children’s cereals, including Froot Loops, has more sugar than two Oreo cookies (9.3 grams).

The EWG review, which assessed cereals manufactured by Kellogg’s, Post, General Mills and Quaker, found that only one in four children’s cereals meets the voluntary guidelines proposed earlier this year by the federal Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children. The Interagency Working Group was created by Congress in 2010 in response to the childhood obesity epidemic. The guidelines recommend no more than 26 percent added sugar by weight for ready-to-eat cereals. Out of the 84 cereals reviewed, 56 of them contain more than 26 percent sugar by weight.

The EWG created a list of the 10 worst children’s cereals, ranked by their percentage of sugar by weight, based on the review”s findings:

  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%

How do children’s cereals stack up with homemade desserts? The EWG review found that a typical batch of 30 homemade sugar cookies contains about a cup of sugar, while Post Golden Crisp has more than one cup of sugar in a 15-serving box. In other words, children’s cereals have more sugar than some homemade desserts.

As a person who struggles with powerful cravings for sugary foods, I know sugar can be like a drug. I attribute what I call my sugar addiction to my childhood which was filled with sugary foods. However, the sugary foods I was given as children were desserts. I was not allowed to eat sugary cereals.

The EWG review backs up my opinion, stating that laboratory studies “suggest that sugar is habit forming, stimulating the same brain responses as opiates.” The EWG review also states that a case can be made that sugar acts like a drug “enticing kids to eat more and more.”

Dr. Andrew Weil, the well-known health expert, says, “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.”

Yes, the EWG review should definitely cause national outrage, given the obesity rates among children. The obesity rate among children and adolescents has more than tripled since 1980, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The EWG Review has a solution for reducing the sugar content in children’s cereals: strengthen the proposed federal guidelines and make them mandatory. It is clear that without mandatory guidelines, food companies will continue to market cereal to children that contain more sugar than packaged desserts such as the iconic Twinkie.


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  • Bibhu Prasad Mohanty

    These commercial companies should have minimum understanding that sugar and table salts are dangerous components in food. Particularly these two are major culprits of so many health problems. Children should be restricted from taking these in great frequency as these are testy. Strong action should be taken against these corporate organisations those who violated the law.