The EWG, a public health non-profit organization, assessed 84 breakfast cereals marketed to children, and found that for some of them, a cup of cereal contained more sugar than a Twinkie, which contains about 18g of sugar. Of the cereals assessed, more than half (44) contained more sugar in a serving than three Chips Ahoy! cookies, which contain a total of 11g of sugar.
Proposals for voluntary national advertising standards put forward by an Interagency Working Group earlier this year suggested that foods advertised to children should not contain more than 13g of sugar per serving, equivalent to about 24-26% sugar by weight.
NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle said in a statement released by the EWG: “Cereal companies have spent fortunes on convincing parents that a kid’s breakfast means cereal, and that sugary cereals are fun, benign, and all kids will eat…No public health agency has anywhere near the education budget equivalent to that spent on a single cereal. Kids should not be eating sugar for breakfast. They should be eating real food.”
Based on sugar by weight, the EWG said the cereal with the highest sugar content was Kellogg’s Honey Smacks with 55.6% sugar, followed by Post Golden Crisp with 51.9% sugar and Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow with 48.3% sugar.
However, the Kellogg Company took issue with the report.
Vice president of Nutrition at Kellogg North America Dr. Lisa Sutherland told FoodNavigator-USA in an email: "Kellogg has reduced the sugar across our U.S. kids’ cereals by approximately 16 percent. Today, our most popular kids’ cereals have 1 to 12 grams of sugar – and many are also a good source of fiber and have 8 grams or more of whole grains."
She also claimed that the company does not market its Honey Smacks cereal to children.
Other children’s cereals that contained more than 40% sugar by weight were Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries (46.9%), Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original (44.4%), Quaker Oats Oh!s (44.4%), Kellogg’s Smorz (43.3%), Kellogg’s Apple Jacks (42.9%), Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries (42.3%), and Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original (41.4%).