Sunday 18 March 2018

Warning as breakfast cereals and bars 'loaded with sugar'

Breakfast cereals can be loaded with sugar
Breakfast cereals can be loaded with sugar

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

BREAKFAST on the go can deliver a huge amount of sugar, a new survey has shown.

A survey by the Irish Independent found some breakfast bars and tubs of cereal deliver more than four spoons of sugar each.

And some cereals also deliver three teaspoons of sugar per bowl – or even more if you exceed the small serving sizes recommended.

The World Health Organisation is considering slashing its recommended daily intake of sugar from 10 teaspoons a day to five because of sugar's association with obesity, heart disease and tooth decay.

Breakfast bars and biscuits are increasingly popular with consumers, but they're often extremely high in sugar – sometimes more than you'd get in a serving of regular biscuits.

Kellogg's raisin Nutri-Grain Breakfast Bakes had the highest sugar content in our survey at 18g per 45g bar – meaning they're actually 40pc sugar.

McVitie's Breakfast Biscuits contain three teaspoons of sugar per serving, which is more than you'd get in a similar sized serving of McVitie's Digestives.

And while porridge is generally the gold standard of healthy breakfasts, we found that some new porridge pots on sale also deliver a huge sugar hit.

Alpen Porridge pot with Blueberry, Cranberry and Nuts contained a whopping 17.3g of sugar, or nearly 30pc of the total content.

Some of this would be in the milk powder and dried fruit used, but sugar was listed as the second ingredient.

Special K's new Multi-Grain Porridge pots have 13g of sugar per serving, or 26g per 100g – though again some of this would be milk sugars and dried fruits.

In most of the cereals we surveyed, sugar content ranged from over three teaspoons per serving down to practically none in plain porridge and Shredded Wheat.

Kelloggs said that breakfast cereals only accounted for 7pc of the sugar in Irish children's diets and it clearly labelled all its packaging so people could make the right decisions for their families.

"We're working hard to provide lower sugar options and that's why we have introduced new lower sugar cereals as part of our ongoing innovation strategy to offer parents more choice," it said.

This included introducing four new healthier children's cereals last year.


Nutritionist Aveen Bannon, of the Dublin Nutrition Centre, said a good rule of thumb was that any option with less than 10g of sugar per 100g was acceptable but less than 5g per 100g was ideal.

However, consumers should also look out for fibre content, as, for example, the high fibre content in bran cereals could outweigh the quite high sugar content of some.

The nutritionist said a person needs 24g of fibre a day, so we should be getting some at every meal, meaning an option like Weetabix with 3.8g of fibre was a very good source, and Shredded Wheat and porridge are also very good options.

Muesli was also a good high-fibre option as long as it contained no added sugar, apart from dried fruit.

Nutritionists generally recommended breakfast cereal as a good option as it was eaten with milk, which provided calcium and protein.

Irish Independent

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