Eat This, Not That: Some Cereals Have More Sugar Than Desserts

A new Environmental Working Group report on sugar in children’s cereals takes popular breakfast brands to task for having higher sugar content than dessert snacks like Twinkies or chocolate chip cookies.

Of the 84 cereals reviewed by EWG, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks had the highest sugar content, with 56% sugar by weight (oh, man—Honey Smacks was considered one of the healthier cereals I ate growing up…). A one-cup serving of Honey Smacks contains 20 grams of sugar, more than a Twinkie (18 grams) or three Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies (11 grams).

In all, 56 of the cereals EWG reviewed contained more sugar than two Oreo cookies—and more than 24 to 26% sugar by weight, the sugar limit recommended by the federal Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children.

Of course, the food to cookie comparisons are a little bit misleading. A serving of Honey Nut Cheerios may contain 12 grams of sugar, but it’s also a better source of vitamins and minerals than the Chips Ahoy. Yes, some of these cereals have high sugar content, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely nutritionally empty choices.

Still, compared to other breakfast options (fresh fruit, whole grain bread, regular oatmeal, nuts, eggs) or even other, lower-sugar cereals, these high-sugar cereals just don’t stack up. Here are four of EWG’s four highest-sugar cereals, along with four from EWG’s low-sugar list.

Photo: The Daily Eater

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    • dontcoast

      Here little ones, let us make sure you have blood sugar regulation problems, mood swings and short attentions spans!

      Warning. Sugar is a drug.

      Why not have soaked and cooked whole grains with yougurt and a lil’ drop of honey? Because we don’t have time in this crazy society.

      What a mess.

    • stephanie

      So it’s no wonder that most kids exceed the “maximum discretionary caloric allowance,” which is already ridiculous (a quarter of our diet can be cotton candy, according to federal guidelines–see 1:40 at