Sugary Cereal: What Are Your Kids Really Eating?

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Girl eating breakfast cereal

Getting the kids fed and ready in time for school in the morning can be a struggle – even on the best of days. It’s no wonder that that the taste and convenience of a quick bowl of their favorite cereal is the go-to breakfast option for many. Unfortunately, this easy solution is contributing to children eating up to half of their daily recommended sugar intake before they even leave the house for school.

How Much Sugar is Okay?

The American Heart Association recommends that kids consume less than 25 grams of added sugar per day (which amounts to about 6 teaspoons), and cereals like Kellogg’s Honey Smacks or Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch cereal contain half (or more) of that amount in one serving. Adding just one glass of apple or orange juice to the mix can double that amount, and easily take a child beyond the suggested added sugar threshold first thing in the morning.

Effects of Too Much Sugar

Not only do children who eat more added sugar tend to avoid healthier options in general, but they also are at a higher risk for an array of health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Another less obvious consequence of kids eating too much sugar is malnutrition. Filling up on the empty calories provided by sugar, kids are often missing out on essential nutrients like the vitamins and minerals provided by more nutrient dense food like fruit, vegetables, and proteins.

Tips for Cutting Back and Some Lower Sugar Alternatives

Since so many kid-friendly breakfast options are super sweet, it can be hard to get your child to accept other flavors and broaden his or her taste preferences. Here are a few tips for cutting back on the sugar overload at breakfast, and some alternatives to the worst high-sugar culprits:

  • Choose a lower-sugar breakfast cereal: options like General Mill’s plain Cheerios or Kellogg’s Rice Krispies have a much lower sugar content than most others. Adding fresh bananas or strawberries can sweeten them just enough! Or if you want to try a less dramatic transition, you can even mix half a serving of the sugary stuff with a lower sugar alternative.
  • Skip the juice: Apple juice has a whopping 24g of sugar per serving (which is more than a coca-cola). Swap out juice for a glass of milk or fruit-infused water, and serve a few slices of the fresh fruit alongside your child’s breakfast.
  • Make your own breakfast: Check out these lower-sugar alternatives to breakfast cereal, like home-made yogurt parfaits, perfectly-poached eggs, or toast spread with avocado. Getting the kids involved in preparing them can help save time and get them excited about a lower sugar breakfast.

At RBK, we are always available to answer any questions you may have about nutrition and healthy eating. Give us a call at one of our three locations to schedule an appointment.

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George Rogu M.D. CPE

Dr. George Rogu is an accomplished pediatrician standing at the forefront of providing advanced pediatric care on Long Island. He has created cutting edge programs that utilize technology to deliver the latest in care and medical information to patients. He specializes in guiding small private practices through transformations that focus on innovation and updating services to provide advanced medical care.

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