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Study Observes Kids Sugary Cereal Choices

December 14, 2010

A Yale University study has determined that kids who start the day with a bowl of sugary cereal are consuming almost twice the sugar they would take in eating healthier options.

Kids served sugary cereal consumed over 24 grams of refined sugar.  Those given low-sugar cereals were more likely to reach for table sugar, but still consumed about half the amount of sugar overall.

The kids who ate either sugary or low-sugar cereals during the study were equally likely to say they enjoyed their breakfast.

“Children will consume low-sugar cereals when offered, and they provide a superior breakfast option,” Jennifer Harris at Yale University and her colleagues write in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers observed 91 children between the ages 5 and 12 as they helped themselves to cereals at summer day camp. 

The authors found that those given sugar options poured themselves approximately 2 servings’ worth of sugar, while those eating low-sugar cereals stuck to a little over 1 serving.

Both groups consumed roughly the same amount of milk and orange juice, as well as total calories.

Over half of the kids given low-sugar options added fruit to their bowls, versus 8 percent of those eating sugary cereals.

“This result suggests that a parent who is concerned that a child will not eat enough of a low-sugar cereal in the morning could provide a small amount of table sugar (eg, 1 tsp) as well as fresh fruit for the child to add to the cereal,” Harris and her team write.

According to the American Heart Association, too much sugar not only contributes to obesity, but is a key culprit in diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 

The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day, and men no more than 37.5 grams.

General Mills announced last week that it was reducing the sugar content in its 11 cereals advertised to children.

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