U.S. children are consuming more than 10 pounds of sugar annually if they eat a typical morning bowl of cereal each day, contributing to obesity and other health problems, and cereal-makers and regulators are doing little to address the issue, according to a study released Thursday.
The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based health information non-profit, said its report covers more than 1,500 cereals, including 181 marketed to children.
As part of the report, the group re-examined 84 cereals it studied in a similar report in 2011, and found that the sugar content of those cereals remained on average at 29 percent. Some cereals had increased sugar content now compared to 2011, and none of the 181 cereals marketed to children was free of added sugars, the group found. On average, children's cereals have more than 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals, EWG said.
"Obviously we know cereals have a lot of sugar in them," said Dawn Undurraga, an EWG consultant and a co-author of the report. "But there is a lot that manufacturers can be doing and FDA can be doing, to protect kids."
The group said one of the worst offenders is Kellogg's (K) Honey Smacks, with 56 percent sugar by weight.
A child eating an average serving of a typical children's cereal eats more than 10 pounds of sugar a year from that source alone, and the average daily intake of added sugar for children is two to three times the recommended amount, the EWG said.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%A Kellogg official said the company has cut sugar in its top-selling kids' cereals by 20 percent to 30 percent over time. The company said the EWG report ignores the benefits provided by a cereal breakfast, including pre-sweetened cereals.
"When you consider what constitutes a good breakfast, cereal and fat free milk pack a powerful nutritional punch, lower in fat and calories than many other breakfast choices, and including many nutrients that people might otherwise miss," said company spokeswoman Kris Charles.
The report is the latest in a push by consumer and health groups to convince food companies and regulators to cut unhealthy ingredients from packaged food products.
In March, the Food and Drug Administration proposed that added sugar content be listed in nutrition facts panels on packaged foods. But the serving sizes need to be more accurately labeled, the EWG said.
Cereal-maker General Mills (GIS) also has already cut the sugar content in its cereals advertised to children, on average by 16 percent since 2007, according to spokeswoman Kirstie Foster. The company's cereals advertised to children have 10 grams of sugar or less per serving, with some at 9 grams, Foster said.
The EWG said companies shouldn't market cereals containing 6 grams of sugar or more per serving to children.
12 Ways to Save Money on Food
Report: Cereals Loaded With Too Much Sugar for Kids
This advice applies to adults and kids alike. Plan out your shopping list before you head to the grocery store so you’re not tempted by impulse buys, and let any children along for the ride know that you plan on sticking with that list. Small expenditures add up to big money, so try to avoid giving in to any last-minute requests.
If your children continue to insist that you purchase their requested items, then ask them to bring their own piggy bank money. Remind your children they are only allowed to pick something they can afford. It's good practice for grown-up budgeting.
You might not have 20 hours a week to scour multiple publications for the best deals, but if you focus on searching for online coupons, you'll end up saving just as much. Search online for products with the word "coupon" afterward. For instance, if you're looking for Cascade dish soap, search for "Cascade dish soap coupons."
To make sure that you don't waste money on impulse buys, schedule your shopping around paydays. The day or day after you get paid should be your shopping day. Before you go shopping, make a list and make sure it has everything you'll need until the next shopping day on it. Now make a commitment to yourself that you will make what you're going to purchase last until the next shopping day.
Stocking your freezer with frozen meals can help you save money on lunch, since they cost just about $5 each. It can even be a healthier option because they help you practice portion control. Just make sure you're purchasing meals that have no preservatives, and watch out for sodium levels.
Don't waste your time making a sack lunch every day. Instead, prepare a week's worth of lunches on Sunday, and your body will thank you for the extra 10 to 30 minutes of sleep you'll gain each night. If you cook one big meal on Sunday, make sure it's easy to change up throughout the week. Chicken, rice and vegetables all cook quickly and taste great with different sauces and cheeses.
Most families throw away so much food on a weekly basis. A better idea is to turn your dinner leftovers into a lunchtime feast. Apps like BigOven help you use your leftovers to make yummy, new dishes. All you have to do is enter the ingredients you have, and the app will show you different recipe options for your leftovers. You'll save money using food that would have been thrown out.
If you know you have $400 to spend per month on your food budget, that's roughly $100 a week. Whether you shop once or twice per week or use cash or credit doesn't matter as long as you stay within your spending limits. Just be sure to only spend the amount you allotted per week.
Keep your shopping list in a set location so all members of the household can access it. Write estimated prices of the items you are going to buy next to each item on the checklist. It can serve a dual purpose as a price book you can use to guess how much you will spend.
If you've ordered from the kids menu at a restaurant recently, then you know how big the meals are – they're almost as big as meals for adults, and they can cost up to $10 each. If you have multiple children, an easy way to cut down on this expense is to have them share a meal. Not only does this lower the cost of feeding everyone, but it also cuts down on food waste.
Most stores are open late, and without the distraction of announcements, people and maybe even your kids, you can have your own Zen moment. When you are clearheaded, you're more likely to zone in on what you really need and leave out what you really don't. Plus, it's easier to give the cashier coupons without causing any delays for the people in line behind you.
We are a society consumed by all sorts of apps, but if you want to grocery shop, save money and still be lazy, let Favado, an app created by Savings.com, do the work for you. The app will tell you about items on sale from different stores, and if there is a store coupon or manufacturer coupon, it will also let you know that too. (Of course, you can just use it to scan the weekly ads to keep things simple.) And if you're already glued to your smartphone, it's easy to incorporate into your shopping routine.