Children's cereals: sugar bombs instead of healthy breakfasts in cereal
Breakfast cereal - especially for children, the so-called "cereals" are very popular and therefore often an integral part of the family breakfast. But as healthy and rich as these may seem at first glance, parents should take a closer look when choosing the "right" flakes for the little ones. Because, as the market check by the consumer organization foodwatch from Berlin found, products specifically addressed to children in most cases contain almost twice the amount of sugar compared to cereals that are marketed for adult consumers.
Consumer organization foodwatch takes a close look at 180 products foodwatch had examined 180 products from a total of seven suppliers for children and adults for this check, including the large, conventional manufacturers Nestlé, Kellogg's, Kölln and Wurzener, as well as the organic company Dennree and the two Discounter Lidl and Aldi (North).
The test revealed astonishing and at the same time terrifying: significantly more sugar was contained in all children's products than in adult products. While the products for adult consumers contained an average of 20 grams of sugar per 100 g, the cereals for children even contained 30 g per 100g product.
Parents are duped by industry This result is surprising and in principle is in stark contrast to what manufacturers suggest to parents through advertising. Because "when it comes to children's food, manufacturers are particularly responsible," says Anne Markwardt, a food expert at the consumer organization. The addition of vitamins and the use of wholegrain cereals present supposedly healthy products and thus “convince parents and grandparents […] that the sugar bombs with a cereal look are a balanced breakfast,” criticizes Markwardt.
"The industry is responsible for children's health irresponsibly," the foodwatch expert continues. Instead of actually offering the children a healthy breakfast, the manufacturers would choose a different route - one that seems to promise more success: "More sugar in and on the pack of colorful cartoon characters and competitions - that's how manufacturers fix little children on their sugar flakes. "
The first years of life determine the taste, because the taste is actually shaped in the first years of life. Anyone who has consumed a lot of sugar early on is simply used to the sweet taste of food and drinks in later life - and in many cases would also like to avoid it. And of course there are risks: It is not without reason that obesity has become one of the biggest health problems worldwide - especially for children, the numbers here would increase steadily: 15 percent of children would be considered too fat by the consumer organization in this country, 6 percent even as obese (obese).
More profit from sweetened children's foods But health-promoting foods can make less money. According to foodwatch, sugared breakfast cereals are a lucrative business for the industry, because the margins here are significantly higher than for fruit and vegetables.
Aldi and Nestlé very big in the (sugar) business According to the test, traditional manufacturers Nestlé and Aldi seem to have discovered that making more money for children with sugar-containing products than with healthy foods: This is how the products of Discounters for children have an average of 35 grams of sugar per hundred grams, whereas those for adults “only” 20 grams. At Nestlé, children's products contain an average of 32 grams of sugar per hundred grams, compared to 17 grams for adults. "Anyone who thinks that there is already a large amount of sugar in the supposedly healthy breakfast cereal is wrong: As the top seller in sugar, the test identified Wurzener's honey bees, which are a real sugar bomb with 48 grams of sugar per hundred grams of flakes."
Protest campaign against Nestlé Such a check leaves its mark - and this is currently felt particularly by the largest food company in the world, Nestlé: In an email protest campaign that runs on the foodwatch homepage, more than 30,000 consumers have already changed the recipes required. And thus already have a small success: According to foodwatch, Nestlé announced that it would like to reduce the sugar content of its flakes marketed to children in Germany from 2013 - to a maximum of 28 percent.
Unrealistic plans on the part of industry For foodwatch, however, these are just empty promises - because 28 percent sugar still corresponds to the sugar content of many cakes and tarts, the criticism. In addition, Nestlé only launched a new product this year, which again has an immense sugar content, namely 34%, hidden in the "Kosmostars".
For the foodwatch expert for children's food Anne Markwardt there is therefore only one solution to the problem with the sugar-coated cereals: "We finally need a legal sugar limit: Only those breakfast cereals that contain a maximum of 10 percent sugar can be marketed to children." (sb)
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