Monday, December 13, 2010

If You (Or Your Child) Eat Cereal, Go Back To The Classics

As if you need more convincing that children's breakfast cereals are unhealthy! A recent report shows that children consume less sugar overall when they sprinkle it on their own cereal compared to pre-sweetened options.

In a study conducted by Yale researchers at a local summer camp, children were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the “low-sugar” breakfast room or the “high-sugar” room. The low-sugar breakfast cereal choices consisted of cheerios, rice krispies, and corn flakes while the other room featured their sugary equivalents - fruit loops, cocoa krispies, and frosted flakes. In both cases, the campers were offered cut up bananas, strawberry slices, sugar, and orange juice along with the cereal. Findings show that although the overall calorie count between the two groups was equivalent, there was a significant difference in where the calories came from.

Choose a cereal low in sugar and load it up with fruit!
 On average, the children in the high-sugar group ate two servings of sweetened cereal (approximately 23 grams of sugar) whereas kids in the low-sugar group poured themselves a single bowl (about 3 grams sugar) and added fruit and sugar as desired. Although the campers in the low-sugar group added on average an additional 9.5 grams of sugar to their breakfast, they peaked at 12.5 grams instead of 23 grams of sugar. This is a huge net savings.

What does this study suggest? Parents are better off picking out the healthier cereals at the grocery store and letting their child add sugar as he or she pleases. Even two or three heaping teaspoons of added sugar do not match the levels in pre-sweetened varieties such as cocoa krispies and frosted flakes. A parent’s watchful eye can minimize sugar intake even more and help start a kid's day off right. Additionally, if children develop a taste for the less sugary options at an early age, they are more likely to maintain those healthier habits for a lifetime.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The last paragraph could not be more true! Growing up my mom never let me eat regular peanut butter or drink regular soda...and snacks after school consisted of fresh fruit. To this day I always pick the low-cal options and actually prefer the taste.