Ask The Dentist: Some breakfast cereals contain as much sugar as a can of Coke

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast says breakfast cereal companies – and parents – have a responsibility to reduce children's sugar intake

Mass-produced breakfast cereals marketed at children might look harmless but...
Lucy Stock

DO YOU think can of Coke is a good thing to give to your child for breakfast? Hopefully not. However, many parents are unwittingly serving up breakfast cereals which contain the same amount of sugar as there is in a can of Coke.

Regrettably some large servings of breakfast cereals can contain up to nine teaspoons of sugar, the same as in a fizzy drink can.

A recent Action on Sugar report shows that some breakfast cereals in the UK have dangerously high levels of sugar, particularly some breakfast cereals marketed towards children. A typical 30g serving of some contain a third of a four-to-six-year-old's maximum daily recommended intake (five teaspoons) of sugar.

Kellogg's has announced the launch of its 'Better Starts Plan', which includes the reduction of sugar levels in three of its best-selling children's cereals. Sugar levels in Kellogg's Coco Pops will be reduced by 40 per cent (from 30g/100g to 17g/100g) by the end of 2018. Additionally, sugar levels in Kellogg's Rice Krispies will be reduced by 20 per cent, and in Rice Crispies Multi-Grain Shapes by 30 per cent.

Jenny Rosborough, registered nutritionist and campaign manager at Action on Sugars says: “We are encouraged by Kellogg's sugar reduction plans and the recent changes they've made and would now like to see this ambition rolled out across their whole portfolio of cereals.

"It is crucial that manufacturers take responsibility for the nutritional quality of cereals they're selling and how they market them, particularly to children. We'd like to see Kellogg's implement front-of-pack colour-coded labelling to support parents in choosing their lower sugar and salt cereals more easily.”

Lower sugar cereals are a step in the right direction but if you want to avoid cereals, what are the alternatives and how do you make the change?

It doesn't take long for your taste buds to readjust to less sugar – the hardest part is to change our habits and routines. This takes thought and preparation. Try bringing the family together to discuss better breakfast options ahead of time. Explaining to the children why the change is needed and hearing their suggestions for alternatives is more likely to produce a sustained change in eating habits.

Here are some alternatives to cereals:

:: Egg breakfast muffins

:: Breakfast burritos

:: Bananas on toast

:: Berries with natural yoghurt

:: Porridge with fruits

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