Most brekky cereals still failing kids

Sugar and sodium overload in most important meal of the day.

A CHOICE survey of breakfast cereals has found only two of those aimed at children are really suitable for everyday eating. Many of the products aimed at kids were among the worst examples of excessive sugar and sodium levels.

While Sanitarium’s Weet-Bix Kids was recommended because of its 11% of dietary fibre, the same company’s Skippy Corn Flakes managed to cram 50% of a small child’s daily maximum for sodium into just one 30-gram serve.

Old favourite Kellogg’s Coco Pops is too low in dietary fibre (1.2%) and too high in sugar (37%) to recommend for children. Similarly, Nutri-Grain was among the worst nutritionally with 2.7% fibre and far too much sugar and sodium for everyday eating.

“More than half of the 152 cereals CHOICE looked at contained far too much sugar. There’s no reason why cereals should contain added sodium but many contain far too much, including those aimed at kids,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which can boost the metabolism and burn food faster. The healthiest cereals contain plenty of dietary fibre but not too much saturated fat, sugar or sodium.

Only one of the top-ten selling cereals, Sanitarium Weet-Bix, made it into the ten healthiest choices list.

Since its last survey two years ago CHOICE found while there had been some nutritional improvements not all the changes were for the better. Nestlé decreased the amount of sugar and sodium in its Milo cereal but upped the levels of sodium in Cheerios and Nesquick. Kellogg’s cut sugar and sodium in Crunchy Nut Clusters but upped the sodium in its kids-marketed Frosties.

CHOICE also tested how realistic the manufacturer’s recommended serving sizes on cereal boxes are. In a small in-house survey 57 people were asked to help themselves to any of the top-ten selling cereals.

On average, the men poured 49% more than the recommended serving size on the packet and women averaged 26% more. The results suggest that nutritional information based on serving sizes, percent Daily Intake (%DI) now featured on the front of boxes, are not in line with people’s actual eating habits and dietary needs.

CHOICE wants to see traffic-light labelling mandatory on all packaged foods. The system sees fats, sugars and sodium colour coded as red (high), amber (medium) or green (low). CHOICE research has shown that traffic-light labelling is significantly more helpful for consumers than %DI labelling.

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