Cereal bowl

Are you eating cookies for breakfast? That's what certain breakfast cereals are like, sugar-wise, according to a new study released Thursday by The Environmental Working Group, an environmental health research organization, measuring the sugar content of 1,556 breakfast cereals, including 181 cereals marketed for children.

A child's portion of cereal consumed every day for a year will add up to 10 pounds of sugar. Consider this: One Chips Ahoy cookie has only 0.024 pounds of sugar, which means that cereal habit is the equivalent of eating almost 420 delicious cookies a year. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, think about this: You could swap a morning bowl of cereal for two Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies and consume less sugar.

“Every single cereal marketed to children contains added sugar. On average, children’s cereals have more than 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals, and twice the sugar of oatmeal,” according to the study.

What’s more, many of these cereals advertise some kind of health benefit and, according to the study, the portion amount on the nutrition labels is often much smaller than the average human-sized bowl, which usually holds between 1-2 cups of cereal.  

Below, a brand breakdown of the cereals with the highest sugar content:

1.       Kellogg's Honey Smacks, “A good source of Vitamin D”

This “sweetened pulled wheat cereal” is clearly aimed at children as the bright red box has a very happy and very green frog encouraging the consumption of one of the most sugary cereal in America. One serving, which is labeled as 3/4 cup (who eats only three-quarters of a cup of cereal?) has 15 grams of sugar.

2.       Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries, “Excellent source of seven essential vitamins and minerals”

Multi-colored, fruit-flavored balls kind of scream sugary cereal, but the advertising on this suggests otherwise. According to the Cap’n Crunch website, this cereal is low fat and when served with milk and fruit or a glass of juice it is an “easy-to-prepare, nutritious breakfast.” With 15 grams of sugar per cup, it might be more worth it to swap the bowl for four Oreo cookies and only consume 14 grams.

3.       Cocoa Krispies, “Good Source of Vitamin D”

This is the chocolate version of Rice Krispies, but Snap Crackle and Pop failed to inform consumers that three-quarters of a cup is 15 grams of sugar, according to the study. However, the nutritional label advertised on the website only says 12 grams of sugar.

4.       Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs “A Naturally Fat Free Food”

This is the grown-up version of Honey Smacks. The cereal looks exactly the same as the Kellogg’s version but advertises no artificial flavors and “goodness of essential vitamins and minerals.” With no artificial flavors, you can still enjoy the “sweet caramel flavor” because of the 15 grams of sugar per three quarters of a cup. That means 56 percent of its weight is sugar.

Post Golden Crisp, which advertises itself as “fat- and cholesterol-free,” comes in at 14 grams of sugar along with Froot Loops with Marshmallow, Wheaties Fuel, Honey Nut Clusters and Smorz.

Cereal, in general, is full of unnecessary sugars, but if you still can’t resist a bowl now and then, the safest bet would be original Cheerios or gluten-free Rice Krispies, both with only 1 gram of sugar.