Kids' cereals have a problem. Their manufacturers make great claims about them - but the claims just don't add up. Unless, of course, you're actually hoping to buy a box filled mainly with sugar, fat and salt. If so, you're in luck!
Researchers at Yale University studied the ingredients of 161 cereals, 46% of which were targeted toward kids. The findings were disturbing. Adult cereals were consistently healthier than kids' cereals. Those cereals made especially for kids had higher levels of sugar, sodium and fat than adult cereals, and less fiber and protein. On average, the kids' cereals had sugar contents that accounted for 33% of their weights! Remarkable...
"In other words, children's cereals have too much of the nutrients you don't want and too little of the nutrients you do want," said Dr. Marlene B. Schwartz, the lead researcher on the study.
The researchers also found the advertising on the box to be misleading. For example, cereals labeled as "low fat" or "low sugar" still had the same number of total calories as other cereals. Those labeled "whole grain," though they did contain more fiber, still had excessive amounts of sugar, salt and fat.
What's a mother to do?
First, recommends Schwartz, choose cereals that contain no more than 4 grams of sugar per serving. Next, make sure each serving contains at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. It's the "4x4" method of cereal selection. Finally, if you really want to be radical - try good, old-fashioned oatmeal. Each serving will only set you back 2.5 grams of fat, and contains absolutely no sugar and no salt. Add some fresh fruit and splash of milk and you've got breakfast.
Yes, it's a radical idea...To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read a further discussion about healthy whole grain breakfast alternatives, see this from The World's Healthiest Foods.