It’s quite the thought isn’t it? A bowl of biscuits v a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. It seems silly; a daft comparison. Yet it isn’t. It’s the frightening reality of children’s breakfast cereals. The sugar content is incredibly high. We browse the cereal aisle; and of course know we should by porridge or Weetabix. But we don’t always; sometimes we give into pester power or our own desire for something sweet; some people eat these cereals all the time. Subconsciously we think it can’t be THAT bad. It’s in the breakfast aisle; it’s a breakfast cereal. The problem is that it’s not alright. It’s not healthy – no matter what the banners shout about added vitamins. People simply don’t realise how high in sugar cereals are. It’s simply not a good idea to feed it to our children before they head off to school. But of course the food industry spends millions on advertising. Millions convincing us that pouring cereal into a bowl with added riboflavin, with milk of course, makes a nutritious breakfast. Obesity? Well…that’s all our fault for eating too much of what big companies spend millions of pounds convincing us to eat. Convincing us that they’ve added iron and Vitamin B so it’s going to be okay. It's not like I'm anti-sugar. Far from it; as all my cupcake recipes show. I am against sugar where it shouldn't be - it should be in icing, cakes and cookies. It shouldn't be high in breakfast cereals.
I first started to understand how much sugar was in processed food when Molly was diagnosed with reflux. Sugar and fat set it off so I was literally counting the grams of sugar each day. Wow. What an experience. Previously I had thought that I was pretty savvy about food. The sheer amount of sugar in breakfast cereals (and those snack bars!) amazed me though. Molly started being given choices – so she could understand just how much sugar was in things such as juice, or Shreddies. We’ve banned juice – just way too much sugar for the benefit. She can eat fruit – and get the fibre and the sugar then. Cereals though remain a bit of a minefield. Especially at sleepovers. If she has sugary cereal then that’s it for the rest of the day –snacks are vegetables, crackers, or a bowl of porridge. It’s not easy, but it does drive the message home.
So the answer? Crunchy Nut Cornflakes has the same amount of sugar per 100g as Oreo Cookies. If you put Ginger Nuts in the bowl instead then you get less sugar than Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Yes. Less.
To make it a bit more obvious I've stacked the biscuits beside the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes to show a 100g of both types of biscuits (each stack is 100g) v 100g of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.
I collected a few examples to think about:
|Cereal||Sugar Per 100g||Biscuits||Sugar Per 100g|
|Crunchy Nut Cornflakes||35g||Oreo's||35g|
|Fruit and Fibre||24g||Hob Nobs||25.5g|
|Rice Krispies||10g||Ginger Nuts||30.8g|
|Shredded Wheat||0.7g||Jaffa Cakes||52.5g|
|Jordon's Berry Granola||21.1g||Fox's Malted Creams||29g|
|CoCo Pops||35g||Fox's Munch Golden Syrup||32.4g|
|Wheetabix||4.4g||McVite's Rich Tea||20.2g|
So a bowl of Jordon's Berry granola has more sugar then a bowl of digestives, or rich tea? I bet lots of people feel that the granola option is healthier - and I suppose it's higher in fibre but it's still way too high in sugar. Big companies have made a fortune out of sugar; and have helped to train our taste buds to expect sweet things all the time.
Are we responsible? Of course we have to share the responsibility. But big companies don't spend millions on advertising for nothing. Advertising works. It's time to take a much bigger interest in what we eat; and how it's produced. The draft report from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has called for a reduction in the amount of sugar we eat. There is talk of a sugar tax. Advice to give children water to drink instead of sugary soda. For me I think step one is to take breakfast back. Make the first meal of the day healthy and go from there.
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