Oct. 1, 2008 -- Cereal can be a great choice for a quick and nutritious
breakfast, but some choices represent the nutritional equivalent of a doughnut
in a bowl, according to a new investigation from Consumer Reports.
The group evaluated 27 of the breakfast cereals that are most heavily
marketed to children, considering not just their sugar content, but also the
amount of sodium, fiber, calories, and nutrients in a recommended serving.
Two of the worst-rated cereals -- Post’s Golden Crisps and Kellogg’s Honey
Smacks -- were more than 50% sugar with very little fiber.
A serving of Honey Smacks has 15 grams of sugar -- 3 more grams than is
found in a Dunkin’ Donuts glazed doughnut. Golden Crisps has 14 grams of sugar
in a 3/4 cup serving and less than 1 gram of fiber.
In all, 11 of the tested cereals had 12 or more grams of sugar per serving,
or as much as the glazed doughnut, Gayle Williams of Consumer Reports Health
“Parents who would never give their children doughnuts for breakfast may be
choosing these cereals without knowing that from a nutritional standpoint they
really aren’t much better,” she says.
The Nutritional Winners
Four of the tested cereals were judged "Very Good" breakfast choices
because they were relatively low in sugar and sodium, had some fiber, were high
in iron, and were good sources of calcium.
None had more than 9 grams of sugar, less than 2 grams of fiber, or more
than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving. They are:
Cheerios (General Mills), with just 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and
190 milligrams of sodium.
Kix (General Mills), with 3 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 210
milligrams of sodium.
Life (Quaker Oats), with 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 160
milligrams of sodium.
Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills), with 9 grams of sugar, 2 grams of
fiber, and 190 milligrams of sodium.
Consumer Reports Medical Advisor Orly Avitzur, MD, tells WebMD that
any of these cereals, served with milk and a piece of fruit, represents a good
“These cereals offer fiber and nutrients and they are not full of sugar,
which is just empty calories,” she says.
“Americans are consuming about 15% more added sugars than they did 25 years
ago, and over that time the percentage of overweight or obese adults has grown
from 47% to 66%. During roughly the same time the number of overweight children
in the U.S. has doubled.”
The Worst-Rated Cereals
Eight of the 27 rated cereals were scored as "Fair" choices -- the
lowest rating given by Consumer Reports. All were low in fiber and most,
but not all, were high in sugar.