Are Children’s Breakfast Cereals Healthy?

Marielaina Perrone DDS Cosmetic Dentistry
Kids love a good bowl of cereal for breakfast in the morning. Parents have been serving it to their children for decades. The problem is, that most popular cereals have more sugar than
Honey Smacks Cereal Marielaina Perrone DDS

Highest sugar content by weight for children’s cereal

three large chocolate chip cookies! A new study has found that one cup of over 40 of the most popular kids breakfast cereals, has more sugar than three chips ahoy brand chocolate chip cookies. The cereal with the highest sugar content by weight is Kellogg’s Honey Smacks. A one cup serving of Honey Smacks cereal contains more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie. In defense of the makers of these cereals, they have lowered sugar content over the years from much higher levels in the past, but more needs to be done to make them a healthier breakfast. Starting the day with high carbs and no protein allows for an initial sugar rush and a subsequent “carb-crash”. Kids need to be able to focus in school, and a good breakfast can help with that.  Kids should not be loading up on sugar first thing in the morning. Not only is it bad for their overall health but also their dental health. This high sugar, carb meal has spread to other meals as well, and is linked  to the childhood obesity crisis we are seeing worldwide, especially in the United States. A balanced breakfast of fruit, protein and carbs is what is recommended for maximum performance.

What Can Parents Do to limit Sugar intake at Breakfast?

First of all, they can make better choices at breakfast time. There are plenty of better cereal and breakfast options. A few good alternative cereals include: -Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats: Unfrosted Bite- Size -General Mills Cheerios Original -General Mills Kix Original – sprinkle the cereal over a bowl of yogurt, or have a handful of fruit and nuts with your cereal to add protein and vitamins.

Four Steps for a Healthy Morning

1. Foods with fiber or protein will sustain your child until the next meal or snack. 2. Include a serving of seasonal fresh fruit or vegetables (frozen works as well). 3. Skip the fruit juice—just eat the fruit! Fruit juice is high in acid and sugar content which are both bad for your dental health. 4. Don’t be afraid of “dinner for breakfast.” Many cultures include hearty options on breakfast menus. Most children’s cereals fail miserably at meeting the federal government’s proposed voluntary guidelines for foods nutritious enough to be marketed to children. Sugar is the top problem, but many also contain too much fat or sodium or not enough whole grains. The bottom line: Most parents say no to dessert for breakfast, but many children’s cereals have just as much sugar as a dessert (or more). Simple-to-prepare, healthy breakfasts for children can include fresh fruit and high-fiber, lower-sugar cereals. Better yet, pair that fruit with homemade oatmeal. Always have your children brush their teeth after breakfast, try leaving a toothbrush and toothpaste in a cup by the kitchen sink! The top 10 worst, ranked by percent sugar by weight:
1 Kellogg’s Honey Smacks 55.6%
2 Post Golden Crisp 51.9%
3 Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Marshmallow 48.3%
4 Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries 46.9%
5 Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original 44.4%
6 Quaker Oats Oh!s 44.4%
7 Kellogg’s Smorz 43.3%
8 Kellogg’s Apple Jacks 42.9%
9 Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries 42.3%
10 Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Original 41.4%
To keep your family healthy and safe, visit your physician regularly for annual check ups and visit your dentist to ensure your children are not developing tooth cavities from poor nutritional choices in the mornings.