t is a sad fact that the majority of cereals targeted towards children are sub standard when compared against the proposed federal guidelines. This information is gathered from a report put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization.
Only 20 out of the 84 tested cereals met the requirements for sugar, saturated and trans fat, sodium, and whole grain content, which was proposed earlier in the year by the Interagency Working Group of Food Marketed to Children. The new criteria was developed as a direct response to the childhood diabietes and obesity epidemic, of which too much sugar intake is a large part of the problem. Healthier breakfast cereals will also help lower cholesterol, and increase fiber intake, for the better overall health of our children.
Focusing on sugar content, the report discovered that two thirds of the cereals that came under scrutiny contained much more sugar than the proposed recommendations. The new recommendation for sugar content is no more than 13 grams for every 50 to 55 grams of cereal. This is equal to 24% to 26% of the total weight of the contents. Many of the leading brands ranged from 41.4% in Kellog’s Froot Loops, to Kellog’s Honey Smacks having 55.6% of their content made up in sugar.
Overall, the study by the EWG has shown that 67% of cereals have too high a sugar content, 12% contain more sodium than the initial standard recommends, and 85% have too high a sodium content for the final standards. A further 8% contain too high a content of saturated fat, and it is also shown that 31% do not even have an adequate content of whole grains.
In conjunction with cereals that do not meet the standards, there is also an included list of the all the cereals studied that do meet the criteria. A caveat is that the ingredients may still be derived from genetically modified food, or had pesticides involved in their production. Amongst the list were a lot of the Kellog’s Mini Wheats brands, General Mills Cheerios Original, Post Shredded
Wheat, and Quaker Oats.
The food industry is at loggerheads with the new standards, which come into effect in 2016, and have created their own list of requirements that will be implemented in 2014. The food industry standard allows 38% of the food content can be made up of sugar. The EWG has responded that the proposed federal guidelines should be made mandatory, and be more restrictive.