01.Children's cereals: not all equal
A good breakfast cereal can be the perfect start to the day, but kids tend to get a raw deal. It’s an unfortunate fact that most of these cereals are among the worst for excessive sugar and salt. See our table for how they stack up.
And while children don’t need as much fibre as adults, they still need more than they’d get from many of these cereals. Only two can be recommended as everyday cereals. The other 40 in our table contain too much sugar or salt – or too much of both. Of course, children enjoy sweet breakfast cereals – and there’s nothing wrong with them as an occasional treat – but sugar merely provides empty kilojoules, contributing to the growing problem of childhood obesity.
In this test we’ve included all cereals that contain chocolate or are obviously aimed at children via ads or packaging.
- Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids
- Uncle Tobys VitaBrits Weeties
Some other popular cereals, however, are too low in fibre and also too high in salt and/or sugar:
- Kellogg’s Coco Pops Chex ]
- Kellogg’s Crispix Honey
- Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain
- Sanitarium Skippy Corn Flakes
Please note: this information was current as of May 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
Family cereals can be a better choice
Compared with the cereals marketed specifically to kids, many popular family cereals are a better choice – if your kids will eat them. They can even add a teaspoon of sugar to them and still get a more nutritious start to the day. They include:
The following breakfast cereals, in alphabetical order, stand out as the healthiest for everyday eating – even if they’re not the most exciting.
- Abundant Earth Organic Puffed Corn
- Abundant Earth Organic Puffed Rice
- Abundant Earth Puffed Millet
- Freedom Foods Free from Gluten Rice Puffs with Psyllium
- Generic wheat biscuits
- Kellogg’s Wholegrain Mini-Wheats 5 Grains
- Sanitarium Puffed Wheat
- Sanitarium Weet-Bix
- Uncle Tobys Shredded Wheat
For more information about 'healthy' cereals see our free Breakfast cereals report.
CHOICE Food for Kids — helping you choose healthier foods for your kids
Cereal manufacturers really are the wizards of spin. They can take a highly processed, low-fibre, sugary (or often salty) product and, with a wave of a marketing wand, promote it as an important source of vitamins and minerals that gives long-lasting energy to boot. There’s no doubt that cereals (and the milk that goes on them) are often an important source of vitamins and minerals for many kids. But the reams of benefits listed on the packaging can lead you to believe a cereal’s the saviour of a bad diet, when in reality it’s closer to confectionery than a health food.
And the positive spin technique isn't isolated to just the kids' cereal category. With all the marketing hype around many kids’ foods it can be difficult for parents to tell just how healthy they really are. Our website — CHOICE Food for Kids — assesses the nutritional value of kids’ foods and will help you make sense of the spin. So visit it today.