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You probably wouldn’t serve your child a Twinkie for breakfast before
he or she heads off to school. But some kids’ cereals pack the same sugary
punch, according to a recent study from the Environmental Working Group. The study
investigated 84 popular children’s cereal brands and found that three-fourths
of them failed to meet the federal government’s proposed guidelines on what
makes food nutritious enough to be marketed to kids.
Fifty-six of the cereals were more than 26 percent sugar by weight—the recommended max. In forty-four of the cereals, including adult favorites
like Honey Nut Cheerios, one cup had the same amount of sugar as three Chips
Ahoy cookies. And three of the cereals had more sugar than the dreaded Twinkie:
18.5 – 20 grams per serving to the Twinkie’s 17.
So what cereals actually made the cut? These kid-friendly choices
passed health guidelines for sugar, sodium, saturated fat and whole grain
1. Kellogg’s Mini Wheats: Unfrosted bite-size, Frosted Big Bite, Frosted
Bite-Size, Frosted Little Bite
2. General Mills Cheerios Original
3. General Mills Kix Original
The following big-name cereals aren’t considered kids’ cereals, but
still might be good picks for the family breakfast table:
4. Post Shredded Wheat (all varieties)
5. Post Grape-Nuts Flakes
6. Quaker Oats Oatmeal Squares Cinnamon
7. Post Bran Flakes
8. Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Vanilla Bunches
The Healthiest Cereals
And if you really want to get high health marks, the study named the
following 7 brands and flavors the best cereals. In addition to meeting
nutritional guidelines, they’re also free of pesticides and genetically
modified ingredients. Just don’t tell your tot that he’s eating something
called “Buckwheat Granola Dates & Spices”!
1. Ambrosial Granola: Athenian Harvest Muesli
2. Go Raw: Live Granola, Live Chocolate Granola, and Simple Granola
3. Grandy Oats: Mainely Maple Granola, Cashew Raisin Granola, and Swiss
Unfortunately, it might be hard to get your kid to dump Toucan Sam and
start loving granola. In addition to the powerful advertising behind kids’
cereal, studies have found that sugar is addictive and even stimulates the same
brain responses as opiates. But it’s worth it to break the habit—kids who
start the day with sugar have a harder time concentrating at school. Plus, an
unhealthy breakfast can lead to weight gain and childhood obesity.
“Cereal companies have spent fortunes on convincing parents that a
kid’s breakfast means cereal, and that sugary cereals are fun, benign, and all
that kids will eat,” said Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the
Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York
University, who reviewed the report. “But kids should not be eating sugar for
breakfast. They should be eating real food.”
Nestle recommends looking for cereals with a short ingredient list, few
or no added sugars and plenty of fiber. Oatmeal is another great option. And on the weekend, cook up one
our 10 Amazing Breakfast Casseroles. Your kids won’t even miss Count Chocula, Toucan Sam or any of those other
sugary mascots when they’re eating a tasty, healthy breakfast.