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Health, Parents

Sugary Cereals are a treat not a regular breakfast option

Recent research by Action on Sugar, a campaign group revealed that some breakfast cereal products have increased in sugar since 2012.

The study was a repeat of the 2012 Which? Breakfast Cereal Report which revealed worryingly high amounts of sugars in 50 breakfast cereals. The aim of the initial study was to call on cereal manufacturers to improve the nutritional content of the breakfast cereals but despite the calls it appears little has been done.

The results showed that 10 out of the 50 cereals contained more sugars and 18 contained the same levels of sugars than in 2012.

The biggest increase was found in Tesco’s Special Flakes, a Special K-style cereal – up 35.8% to 16.3g from 12g per 100g. This was followed by Aldi’s Harvest Morn Benefit Original – up 25% to 15g from 12g /100g. Shockingly Aldi’s Harvest Morn Choco Rice increased in sugar by 18% to 39g/100g and was declared the most sugary breakfast cereal out of the 50 studied. Action on Sugar calculated that a bowl (approx. 30g) contains as much sugar as at least 7 Cadbury Fingers. You wouldn’t give your child chocolate biscuits for breakfast, yet certain manufacturers are effectively doing that for us.

The problem with these cereals is children quickly become used to the taste of high-sugar cereals and find healthier ones less palatable, which has long-term implications on their health. Eating too much sugar leads to weight gain, raising the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Also increasing their risk of tooth decay.



So what can you do instead – have wholegrain breakfast cereals, plain porridge, plain yogurt, plain muesli, wait before you stop reading, add fresh or dried fruit to make it more appealing and also increase its nutritional value. Finally, to choose a healthier cereal, read the label and remember that a branded popular product doesn’t mean it is the best nutritionally and a discounted cheaper product doesn’t mean it is worse nutritionally.

To help make healthier choices, try FoodSwitch!  FoodSwitch is an award-winning, independent, free health app that allows users to scan the barcode of nearly 100,000 packaged foods and drinks to receive immediate easy to understand colour coded nutritional information along with suggested evidence-based healthier alternatives. It’s a great way of sticking to your resolutions this year and making the switch to a healthier lifestyle.

Download FoodSwitch here!

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Action on Sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.

Kawther is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist working on salt and sugar reduction with Consensus Action on Salt and Health and Action on Sugar.

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