HaIf you were told that athletes who ate breakfast performed better in competition and kids who ate breakfast were able to concentrate more in school, would that get your attention? How about adults who ate breakfast were better able to control their weight than those who did not eat breakfast?
Cereal is one of the earliest convenience “junk” foods on record dating back to the early 1800’s. Marketers have managed to plant “cereal for breakfast” into our subconscious as basically healthy when in fact it’s laden with sugar. And, it’s the sugar that killed any of the nutritional benefit found in cereals that contained oats, wheat or corn. In fact any original goodness has to be artificially restored.
Products like Sugar Crisp, Frosted Flakes and Honey Comb contain the word sugar or sugars high calorie cousins, frosted and honey, right in their name. At least as kids you would spend most of the day playing outside burning off all that sugar but as adults this may be a problem.
Okay, so what’s the point here?
The year is 2022 and nothing much has really changed. What kid hasn’t heard, “They’re Grrreat:” or “Trix are for Kids” or “ Lucky Charms, they’re magically delicious”?
Healthier choices are available but their advertising doesn’t appeal to kids. Saturday morning cartoon airtimes have always advertised unhealthy choices in the form of commercials.
A study, conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, shows that cereals marketed to children have 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber, and 60 percent more sodium, not to mention the additional unnecessary calories that this adds to breakfast.
If the average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads per year on television then what can we expect them to want on a trip to the grocery store?
The Top 10 advertised cereals to children with the poorest nutrition content were: Reese’s Puffs, Corn Pops, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch, Trix, Froot Loops, Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, and Cookie Crisp.
Cruising down the cereal aisle and succumbing to the flashy cartoony cereal box with a toy inside is not much different then parents buying a McDonald’s Happy Meal, just to get their kids to eat.
It’s tough, you want your children to leave the house with something in their stomachs but at what costs? Many cereals contain more sugar than a chocolate bar and more salt than a bag of potato chips.
Even the big name cereal manufacturers are realizing that they have to cut the sugar content of their most popular children's cereals if they are going to do their part to curb childhood obesity.
Kelloggs a lots over a quarter of their advertising budget to targeting kids under 12.
Your Cereal Takeaways Are
- Breakfast ideally provides slow release energy that will sustain us for hours to come and not spike 20 minutes later. Look for whole grains without overly-processed ingredients (especially refined sugars). Cereals with naturally occurring fruit sugars would seem like a good alternative. Many cereals now have added real freeze-dried berries, apples and bananas.
- Don’t be fooled by cereals that add in fruits to their lower-fiber refined-grain cereals to make them appear healthy. Cereals with fruits usually have higher sugar content as sugar is naturally occurring in fruits. It is a healthier option if you add in your own fresh fruits to high-fiber cereals.
- Breakfast cereals that are low in fat can be a good source of fiber but when reading nutrition labels pay attention to the sugar content.
*The recommended intake of fiber is 25 grams per day; therefore choose breakfast cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving (many cereals with 100% whole grains have much higher amounts of fiber).
Lastly, in case you’re ever caught up in a cereal trivia battle, Lou Gehrig (from the New York Yankees) was the first baseball player to appear on the Wheaties box in 1934 (official Wheaties website).