Oh sugar! Why can’t breakfast cereals be healthier?
Our latest look at breakfast cereals shows that many are improving when it comes to salt but there’s still too much sugar in most. How easy do you find it to choose a healthy option for your morning bowl?
Which? has just carried out a survey of breakfast cereals. We’ve done this several times over the last few years and I’m always surprised at how difficult it can be to find healthier choices among the vast numbers of cereals on offer – particularly when they portray such a healthy image.
This time we found that 32 out of the 50 cereals we looked at were high in sugar. In only two cases was this due to the fruit they contained; for the rest it was added sugar.
Sugar up, salt down
It’s particularly disturbing how few healthy choices are marketed to children – 12 out of the 14 we looked at were high in sugar (Rice Krispies and Weetabix were the only exceptions). Surely it can’t be so difficult to put a cartoon character on healthier choices?
Salt was a more encouraging story and it is clear that most manufacturers have been making reductions. Just eight weren’t yet meeting the salt targets set for the end of 2012 and many had made quite significant reductions since we last looked at cereals in 2009.
We could tell all of this because we compared like with like and added traffic light colour-coding to the nutrient levels in the cereals. But this isn’t something you can do in the supermarket as labelling is so often inconsistent.
For example, eight of the fifty had no front-of-pack nutrition labelling and only 14 included traffic lights. Different serving sizes added to the confusion, as did claims about healthier aspects of some cereals (such as being low in fat) when they were high in sugar.
Breakfast should be easier than this. So isn’t it time cereal manufacturers started to produce a wider range of healthier products and labelled them simply and clearly so that you can easily spot them?
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