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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Cereals Still Stuffed With Sugar

  • Manufacturers claim to be improving the nation’s breakfast but in fact the highest sugar containing cereals have either increased or stayed the same since 2012
  • 14 out of 50 cereals contain a THIRD or more (≥33.3g/100g) sugar, or 8 teaspoons per 100g
  • Companies should look to the success of the salt reduction programme and reduce sugars, NOW!
High fibre, lower sugar and salt cereals can still play a part in a healthy diet, and if you read the labels you can find healthier options available. For example Shredded Wheat Original (0.7g/100g sugars) (which ranked the healthiest cereal in 2012), and Quaker Oats Oat So Simple Original (1.0g/100g sugars), both made with no added sugars, and Weetabix (4.4g/100g sugars). 
There have been notable achievements among food manufacturers in reducing salt content since the 2012 survey, with the likes of Lidl’s Crownfield Corn Flakes coming down by 1.02g/100g (60%) and Simply M&S Cornflakes coming down by 0.45g/100g (36%). All cereal manufacturers are being asked to follow their success with reducing salt, which has lowered the nation’s blood pressure, and to reduce sugars.  
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar says: “Children quickly become used to the taste of high-sugar cereals and find healthier ones less palatable, which has long-term implications on their health. Eating too much sugar leads to weight gain, raising the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. 
“One of the greatest failures in tackling Britain’s obesity epidemic is the governments’ appeasement of the food industry; we cannot allow this to go on any longer. The so-called ‘Responsibility Deal’, which allows the food industry to regulate themselves (a likened to ‘Dracula being put in control of the blood bank’), has clearly failed. It’s time for it to be scrapped.”
Kawther Hashem, Nutritionist at Action on Sugar adds: “You wouldn’t give your child chocolate biscuits for breakfast, yet certain manufacturers are effectively doing that for us. It is highly concerning that many parents are still buying cereal products for their children thinking they are choosing healthier products only to find these items are laden with excess sugar and calories. 
“We urge parents to make more informed food switches such as choosing wholegrain breakfast cereals but not those coated with sugar or honey.  Adding fresh fruit to cereal can make it more appealing and also increase its nutritional value.”
To help make healthier choices, try FoodSwitch!  FoodSwitch is an award-winning, independent, free health app that allows users to scan the barcode of nearly 100,000 packaged foods and drinks to receive immediate easy to understand colour coded nutritional information along with suggested evidence-based healthier alternatives. It’s a great way of sticking to your resolutions this year and making the switch to a healthier lifestyle.