What’s in your bowl? New report fingers the least-nutritious cereals

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The worst offenders (nutrition wise) of the cereal aisle, according to a report released today from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity include:

  • Reese’s Puffs
  • Corn Pops
  • Lucky Charms
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Cap’n Crunch
  • Trix
  • Froot Loops
  • Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles
  • Cocoa Puffs
  • Cookie Crisp

The fact that Lucky Charms is among the least nutritious cereals on the market should surprise no one. (What’s in those purple horseshoes anyway?) But it may shock you to know just how much moola cereal companies sink into selling your tot sugar. The average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads per year on television alone, almost all for cereals with the worst nutrition rankings, notes the report. The price tag for those spots? $156 million.

The exhaustive findings are chock full of shame-on-cereal-maker stats, such as the fact that children’s cereals contain 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber and 60% more sodium than cereals aimed at adults. “The large cereal companies have chosen to aggressively market only their least nutritious products directly to children,” assail the authors.

Marion Nestle, PhD, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University and author of several books, including Food Politics, has dutifully tracked this subject for years—she collects cereal boxes that make egregious health claims—and covers the report in her blog. Most troubling, she writes, is the “dual marketing.” “Advertising aimed at kids pushes sugar. Advertising aimed at parents uses health claims…”