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Many Kids’ Cereals Fail The Twinkie Test

December 7, 2011

Which makes for a better breakfast for your child, a Hostess Twinkie, chocolate cookies or a bowl of cereal? A study released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit that researches everything from the safety of sunscreens to pesticides in foods, may surprise you.

Popular morning cereals, Kellogg´s Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp and General Mills Wheaties Fuel are packed with more sugar in a one-cup serving than a Hostess Twinkie. An additional 44 cereals are loaded with more sugar in a cup than three Chips Ahoy cookies.

Jane Houlihan, senior vice president of research for EWG claims, “Most parents would never serve dessert for breakfast, but many children´s cereals have just as much sugar or more. I wasn´t surprised that so many of these cereals contained sugar. I was surprised at the very high amounts.”

The report comes at a time that obesity rates reach epidemic levels and the federal government is considering voluntary guidelines for foods marketed to children, including limits on the sodium, fats and added sugars in the foods and drinks advertised to kids ages 2 to 17, reports Dina ElBoghdady for the Washington Post.

The breakfast foods industry would prefer its own standards, unveiled in July, and many cereal makers say the study is misleading on several fronts.

Only two cereals on the study´s “10 worst” list are marketed to kids, industry advocates explain, pointing out Kellogg´s Apple Jacks and Froot Loops Original. Advertising was stopped on products with more than 12 grams of sugar to children under age 12 starting in 2006, when the industry adopted its own marketing standards.

Comparisons between cereals and dessert, such as Twinkies with 17.5 grams of sugar and three Chips Ahoy cookies with 11 grams of sugar, is dismissed by the industry.

Sugary cereals, they say, have nutritional value because they do contain vitamins and minerals and children do consume milk with their cereal, said Vice president of nutrition for Kellogg North America, Lisa Sutherland.

General Mills cites data from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that says children who eat sweetened cereal tend to have healthier body weights than those that don´t.

Consumer advocates point out that till, cereal companies can do much better. For them, “this is about selling products. It´s not about health,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition and food studies professor at New York University. “Their goal is to sell cereals, and these sugary cereals are enormously profitable.”

Cereal makers spend huge amounts of money advertising them and packaging them with colorful cartoon characters that lure children, said Nestle, author of “What to Eat.”

Sutherland, continues, saying the company has reduced the sugar in children´s products by about 16 percent. “Our most popular kids´ cereals have 4-12 grams of sugar, so parents can choose the cereal that best meets their families´ needs,” she tells WebMD.

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Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports



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