Experts Say “Reduced-Sugar” Cereals Not Nutritionally Sweet

Hurray for the Associated Press for trying to ferret out the truth about the “reduced-sugar” versions of children’s breakfast cereals as Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes. The AP asked nutrition scientists from five universities to rate the nutrition of six major brands of sweetened cereals that were promoted as lower in sugar.

The experts–which came from such established institutions as Harvard, Tufts and Penn State Universities–offered a verdict that might surprise many consumers. They have “no significant nutritional advantages over their full-sugar counterparts.”

Nutrition scientists discovered that the new cereals do contain less sugar, but the calories, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and other nutrients are “almost identical to the full-sugar cereals,” the AP reported. “That’s because the cereal makers have replaced sugar with refined carbohydrates to preserve the crunch.”

“You’re supposed to think it’s healthy,” said Marion Nestle, a savvy, outspoken professor at New York University and author of Food Politics, a book that’s critical of the food industry’s influence on public health. “This is about marketing. It is about nothing else. It is not about kids’ health.”

Furthermore, substituting sugar with refined carbs just doesn’t make a difference. As Lilian Cheung of the Harvard School of Public Health observed, our bodies treat all refined carbs the same, whether they’re sugars or grains. “The changes don’t buy you anything. From a health point of view, I really can’t see the difference,”  she said.

Hmm. I suspect that the AP article is what prompted a San Diego mother to file her lawsuit against three breakfast cereal makers. Thanks. AP, for alerting the public to this dubious marketing tactic and to the less-than-optimal nutritional reality of those lower-sugar cereals.

Ultimately, this cereal marketing ploy shows that consumers can’t be duped into thinking that these lower-sugar cereals are better if they always made a point to scrutinize food labels to hunt for hidden sugars and carbs.

Remember, all have power with our buying decisions. (If you’d like to learn how to read food labels, keep a lookout for upcoming free teleseminars. You can learn about them by signing up for my free Stop SUGAR SHOCK! e-zine).

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