It’s scary, really, when you consider that one cup of the popular breakfast cereal Honey Smacks contains even more sugar than a Twinkie. This comes from a new report released by non-profit research and advocacy organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) after their experts examined more than 80 popular cereal brands marketed directly to children.
The report, titled Sugar in Children’s Cereals: Popular Brands Pack More Sugar than Snack Cakes and Cookies, also tells us many children’s cereals fail to meet the government’s proposed guidelines for sugar content, which recommend no more than 26 percent added sugar by weight. According to the study, over half of the cereals reviewed surpassed that number—packing more sugar than popular junk food desserts like snack cakes and cookies.
So what’s the problem with all that sugar? Let’s start with obesity. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years,i putting American children at an increased risk for developing obesity-related illness and disease. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In a recent statement, the American Heart Association revealed kids as young 1-3 years already consume around 12 teaspoons (roughly 48 grams) of sugar each day, and by the time they’re teens that number will nearly triple.ii According to the EWG report, kids who consume high-sugar breakfasts are more likely to have problems at school—including difficulty concentrating and paying attention in class. As a result, they are more likely to make mistakes on their work. They also have less energy and are hungrier throughout the day.
Because the manufacturers that develop and sell these high-sugar cereals and other processed food products continue to lobby for more lenient nutritional guidelines, parents need to be vigilant about proper diet and making sure children are getting the vital nutrients essential for their well-being. EWG’s report provides a list of the “10 Worst Children’s Cereals,” along with tips for choosing smarter breakfast options, to help parents make sure kids get a healthier start each day.