Children's cereals so sugary 'they should be in a supermarket's biscuit aisle', says watchdog

Children's breakfast cereals are so full of sugar they would be better placed alongside chocolate biscuits on shop shelves, it has been claimed.

Consumer watchdogs accused manufacturers of failing to do enough to reduce sugar levels.

The research group Which said: ‘Cereals aimed at children were particularly disappointing, with high levels of sugar found in 12 out of 14, meaning that many would be more at home in the chocolate biscuit aisle.’

Hidden excess: A study for Which magazine has found that many cereals are high in sugar content

Hidden excess: A study for Which magazine has found that many cereals are high in sugar content

Kellogg’s Frosties came out worst on the basis it is 37 per cent sugar. Supermarket chocolate rice cereals came a close second.

A high-sugar diet is implicated in rising obesity and tooth decay among the nation’s children.

Worst offender: Kellogg's Frosties contains 37 per cent sugar, according to a Which magazine survey

Worst offender: Kellogg's Frosties contains 37 per cent sugar, according to a Which magazine survey

Overall, 32 out of 50 cereals were
high in sugar, including several that are marketed as healthy or
slimming options, such as Kellogg’s Special K.

Executive director at Which, Richard
Lloyd, said: ‘Parents will be particularly surprised by the fact the
majority of children’s cereals contain so much sugar. More action is
needed by retailers and manufacturers to provide a wider choice of
healthier cereals.’

He said a lack of consistent labelling across brands makes it difficult for families to quickly identify the healthier options.

Many companies print nutrition information on packs, but they use different serving sizes as the basis for their calculations.

Most sugary

The consumer group is a supporter of
so-called traffic light labels, which identify when products are high in
sugar, salt or fat using red, amber and green icons.

Mr Lloyd said: ‘The Government needs
to encourage manufacturers to take action over sugar levels and provide
consistent nutrition labelling that includes traffic light colour coding
so it is easy to see exactly what you are buying.’

Nestle’s Shredded Wheat was the healthiest cereal, with low levels of sugar, fat and salt.

Which experts said they were pleased to see reductions in salt across the majority of breakfast cereals.

Kellogg’s rejected the criticism,
saying it provides clear information on sugar and salt levels and gives
shoppers a huge choice.

The Breakfast Cereal Information
Service, which speaks for manufacturers, denied there was a link between
sugary cereals and obesity.

It said: ‘A huge number of studies
show that consumers who eat breakfast cereals have a lower body mass
index than non-consumers and are at less risk of being overweight.

‘A recent study looking at children
confirmed that breakfast cereals are the most nutritious choice. The
study found that prevalence of obesity was higher in breakfast-skippers
than cereal consumers.’

Kellog's Coco Pops

Nestle Shreaded Wheat

Highs and lows: Many Kellogg's products, such as Coco Pops, were high in the sugar chart, while Nestle's Shredded Wheat was both low in sugar and salt