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10 Most Horrifically Unhealthy Cereals

Many popular cereals contain more sugar than a Twinkie or Chips Ahoy cookies.
 
 
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The following article first appeared in  Mother Jones. For more great content from Mother Jones, sign up for free email updates  here. 

 

As a kid, I once begged my mom for a product called  Ice Cream Cones Cereal. That name really tickled Mom, the sheer audacity of it. It wasn't even  trying to sound healthy! Needless to say, Ice Cream Cones never made it into our shopping cart. Apparently, it didn't make it into very many other shopping carts either: According to Wikipedia, it lasted for only a few months in 1987.

I'd always kind of thought that the demise of Ice Cream Cones Cereal proved that even stressed-out parents wouldn't go for such an unapologetic nutritional disaster. But boy was I wrong! In perusing a new  report on sugar cereals from the Environmental Working Group, I learned about many modern cereals my seven-year-old self would have been clamoring for, including  SmorzFroot Loops Marshmallows, and  Cap'n Crunch's OOPS! All Berries.

In case you couldn't tell from their names, those cereals pack in a lot of sugar (or corn syrup, but as I've said before,  basically same dif). And they aren't the only ones: EWG found that three of the most popular kids' cereals (Kellogg's Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp, and General Mills Wheaties Fuel) contain more sugar per serving by weight than a Twinkie, and 44 others have as much sugar as three Chips Ahoy cookies.

The top ten worst, ranked by percent sugar by weight:

1 Kellogg's Honey Smacks 55.6%
2 Post Golden Crisp 51.9%
3 Kellogg's Froot Loops Marshmallow 48.3%
4 Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch's OOPS! All Berries 46.9%
5 Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch Original 44.4%
6 Quaker Oats Oh!s 44.4%
7 Kellogg's Smorz 43.3%
8 Kellogg's Apple Jacks 42.9%
9 Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries 42.3%
10 Kellogg's Froot Loops Original 41.4

EWG points out that the sugar content in these dessert-like cereals is much greater than federal guidelines recommend:

More than three-quarters of children’s cereals do not meet the federal Interagency Working Group’s proposed nutrition guidelines for 2016. Far more meet the industry’s standards for foods nutritious enough to be marketed to children.

Eighty-two percent of General Mills children’s cereals don’t meet the federal guidelines, but only 5 percent fail to meet the industry’s standards. Not surprisingly, General Mills has joined other food, media, and entertainment companies in calling to replace the government proposal with industry’s
more lenient guidelines.

But major cereal makers don’t even take their own industry’s targets seriously; one-fourth of children’s cereals contain too much sugar.

So what's a parent to do? In my house growing up, my folks were partial to a rather dreary cereal called  Amaranth Flakes. If you prefer your cereal a bit less austere, these major brands are good choices, says EWG

  • Kellogg's Mini-Wheats: 
    Unfrosted Bite- Size,
    Frosted Big Bite,
    Frosted Bite-Size,
    Frosted Little Bite
  • General Mills Cheerios Original
  • General Mills Kix Original

Even cheaper, and hardly any sugar at all: a bowl of oatmeal.

The EWG has more breakfast factoids and suggestions  here.

Kiera Butler is an associate editor at Mother Jones. For more of her stories, click here .

 
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