Honey Bunches of Oats beats up Cocoa Pebbles

Comic courtesy of ttdesign

In a study at Yale University, scientists tested 161 brands of breakfast cereal of which 46 percent were marketed to children.

A cereal was put in this category if it had a character on the box, toys or games inside, or the company's Web site listed the brand as a children's cereal.

Amazingly, children's cereals had more sugar, sodium, carbohydrate and calories per gram than non-children's cereals, and less protein and fiber. Sugar accounted for more than one-third of the weight of children's cereals, on average, compared to less than one-quarter of the adult cereals.

34% of the kids' cereals met nutrition standards for foods sold in schools, compared to 56% of the non-children's cereals, according to Dr. Marlene B. Schwartz of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the lead researcher of the study.

Schwartz, a psychologist, urges parents who want to ban heavily marketed cereals from their homes to stick to their guns:

"My advice to parents of young children is you've got to just make a decision and stick with it because if you give in once, you're going to regret it. It's just going to make your kid nag you even more."

To demonstrate the differences, I randomly looked at two different cereals, Honey Bunches of Oats, a traditionally adult brand cereal, and Cocoa Pebbles, a standard kid’s cereal. If you look at the nutritional labels below, you’ll see that the Cocoa Pebbles cereal had almost twice the sugar and just about 20% more sodium than its adult counterpart!

Schwartz and her colleagues also found that health claims made for kids' cereals were often misleading.

Cereals sold as "low fat" or "low sugar" weren’t lower in calories, as parents might assume, and brands touted as "whole grain" didn’t have more fiber--they had just as much salt, sugar and fat as other brands and the same caloric content.

Don’t believe all the advertising.

A knowledgeable and informed consumer is someone who reads all of the food labels and isn’t swayed by high priced advertising.

Of course, know what the label means, what the percentages are, and read, read, and read some more, because

After all, it’s about a healthy lifestyle!

© Iowa Avenue

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Tags: advertising, breakfast, cereal

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