We’ve always known children’s cereals aren’t always the most healthy option to kick start the day. And now it seems the sugar content in many is on the up. Is it time we started to pick from elsewhere on the shelf?
We’ve looked at breakfast cereals many times over the years. Each time I’ve been amazed at how a product category with such a healthy image contains so many products laden with sugar – and in some cases salt.
Most shocking of all, it’s generally the ones that are aimed at children that are the least healthy. New research on cereal sugar content has been published by Action on Sugar today and the results aren’t promising.
From looking at the cereals we included in our ‘What’s in your bowl report’ in 2012, Action on Sugar have revealed that in some cases the sugar content is going up. Results show 14 out 50 cereals tested contained at least 33.3g of sugar, or eight teaspoons, per 100g. This is all despite some manufacturers claims of improving the health of the nation’s breakfast.
According to Action on Sugar’s report there’s been an 8% increase in sugar level of Morrisons Honey & Nut Cornflakes and Sainsbury’s Honey Nut Cornflakes, increasing from 33.3g per 100g to 36.3g.
But there has been a reduction in some – Honey Monster Puffs, previously known as Sugar Puffs, has had a 17% reduction from 35g to 29g.
Healthy promotion needs to take priority
Many people will have their favourite cereals and will have grown up with the cartoon characters that promote them – whether that’s Tony the Tiger, Coco the Monkey or Chip the Woolf. But isn’t it time that cartoon characters started to promote healthier products, rather than less healthy ones to children?
Despite concern about rates of obesity and poor diets, there have been few attempts to put all of this creativity into helping encourage children to eat healthily. To make matters worse, cereals that can contain around a third sugar often make claims about the vitamins and minerals that have been added to them – giving false reassurance that they aren’t such a guilty pleasure after all.
Transparency in the milky waters
This wouldn’t all be quite so bad if manufacturers were more transparent about what is in the products. Credit has to go to the supermarkets who have committed to putting traffic light nutrition labelling on their own-brand products. Branded products sit next to them in stark contrast though, with the lack of traffic light labelling making it difficult to spot the healthier alternatives.
It’s time cereal manufacturers got their act together. We need to see more healthier cereals, particularly those aimed at children.
The effort that goes into encouraging children to ask for sugary cereals should shift to promoting healthier choices. And all cereal manufacturers, branded or own-branded, should be up front about what they contain and put traffic light labelling on their products.
Do you struggle to get your kids to eat the healthier cereals? Do you think it’s the responsibility of the manufactures to be clearer about the contents of their cereals?