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Kids’ Cereals: Some Are 50% Sugar

Consumer Reports Rates Nutritional Winners and Losers

The Worst-Rated Cereals continued...

Case in point: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies had just 4 grams of sugar per serving, less than most of the other tested cereals. But it still rated poorly because it was high in sodium and had no fiber.

Post’s Golden Crisp and Kellogg’s Honey Smacks made the list because they had the most sugar of any of the cereals tested.

Adults might remember these cereals from their childhoods as “Super Sugar Crisp" and “Sugar Smacks." Although the names have been changed, the report notes that “the levels of sugar in the cereals have remained about he same.”

The five other lowest-rated cereals included:

  • Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch (Quaker Oats), with 9 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 200 milligrams of sodium in a 3/4 cup serving. 
  • Cap’n Crunch (Quaker Oats), with 12 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 200 milligrams of sodium in a 3/4 cup serving. 
  • Apple Jacks (Kellogg), with 12 grams of sugar, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 135 milligrams of sodium in a 1 cup serving. 
  • Froot Loops (Kellogg), with 12 grams of sugar, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 135 milligrams of sodium in a 1 cup serving. 
  • Corn Pops (Kellogg), with 12 grams of sugar, no fiber, and 110 milligrams of sodium in a 1 cup serving.

The Middle of the Pack

Fifteen of the tested cereals were rated as "Good" choices, but the investigators noted that there was room for improvement in sugar and/or fiber content for most.

Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size scored highest of the cereals that got the rating, with 12 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fiber, and just 5 milligrams of sodium.

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Reduced Sugar scored lower than regular Frosted Flakes. Although it had 8 grams of sugar per serving instead of 11 grams, the reduced-sugar version also had more calories and sodium than the original.

Cereals rated as "Good" included:

  • General Mills: Cookie Crisp, Golden Grahams Honey Graham, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix, Reese’s Puffs. 
  • Kellogg: Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size, Frosted Flakes Gold, Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Krispies, and Frosted Flakes Reduced Sugar. 
  • Post: Fruity Pebbles, Honey-Comb, Cocoa Pebbles.

Cereal Company Responds

In response to the report, a spokeswoman from Kellogg noted that the company has recently reformulated five of its cereals included in the Consumer Reports investigation to make them healthier choices.

These reformulated versions began to appear on grocery store shelves in June, but Honey Smacks has not been reformulated.

The Consumer Reports article noted that even with the reformulation, the five cereals -- Froot Loops, Corn Pops, Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, and Apple Jacks -- would still score poorly in a nutrition rating compared to other choices.

In a statement, Susanne Norwitz of Kellogg notes that the company continues to work to improve the nutritional content of its products.

“Kellogg is committed to investing and innovation and looking to improve our products’ nutritional profiles wherever possible,” she says in the statement. “Our ready-to-eat cereals, including the pre-sweetened varieties, are nutrient dense, low in fat, and many are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Additionally, according to the government data, breakfast cereal consumption has been associated with lower (weight) in kids.”

She added that the company supports portion control as a “central tenet of achieving weight management and a healthy lifestyle.”

A spokesman for Ralcorp Holdings, which manufacturers Post cereals, had no comment on the report.

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