Children's Breakfast Cereal

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The Food Detectives and Rosemary Stanton have investigated your nominations, and have apprehended NutriGrain, Milo and Cocoa Bombs as the Cereal Offenders that are heavy on marketing spin and light on good nutrition.

We’ve also awarded a Badge of Honour to Weet-Bix Kids for being a healthy children’s cereal that does indeed live up to its marketing claims.

During our investigation, we identified some trends on how manufacturers use children's cereal packaging. For example, in contrast to when Coco Pops appealed to children because it was 'just like a choclate milkshake, only crunchy', these days claims are mostly about the purported nutritional benefits, and not purely taste or enjoyment. This could be seen as a responsible move by the manufacturers, however as we discovered, the boxes still contain a bombardment of claims and ads on every panel.

We also observed that the cereals that rated worst on fibre, fat, sugar and sodium content tended to boast the longest lists of added vitamins and minerals, which could lead many parents into believing that a product is healthier than it is.

We used criteria from CHOICE to assess levels of fibre, fat, sugar and sodium: red = high, amber = moderate, green = low (fibre: red = low fibre content, amber = moderate and green = high fibre).

On this page:

Cereal offenders:
Kellogg's Nutri-Grain
Nestle Milo Cereal
Lowan Cocoa Bombs

Badge of Honour:

Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids

Suspect: Kellogg's Nutri-Grain

Brief:
For decades Nutri-Grain has touted itself as being an ideal cereal if you want to grow up to be big and strong. With taglines like Iron Man Food and helps fuel growing boys, TV ads depicting athletic boys growing into athletic men eating the product and the on-pack claims protein for muscle development, calcium for bone strength and carbs for energy, Nutri-Grain promises a lot, but does it deliver? 

 Energy (kJ / serve)

480kJ / 30g

Top 3 ingredients:
Cereals 44% (wheat flour, oatmeal, maize flour), sugar, wheat gluten.

Also includes:
Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron.

 Fibre %

2.7%

 Fat per 100g

0.6g

 Saturated fat per 100g

0.1g

 Sugar per 100g

32g

 Sodium per 100g

600mg


Investigation report:

Nutri-Grain fails to meet most criteria for a healthy cereal with its very low fibre content, and high levels of both sugar and salt. The protein content of the milk you add dwarfs that included in the cereal. It most certainly is not an appropriate choice for a growing child, especially those aspiring to a career in sport or fitness.

Rosemary Stanton:
"Not even the added vitamins and minerals can make up for that fact that this product is almost one-third sugar. An elite iron man may burn off the kilojoules, but no amount of exercise will protect his teeth. Parents and kids are being conned by any idea that Nutri-Grain is a healthy product."  

Verdict:    

STAMPcerealoffender

 

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Suspect: Nestle Milo Cereal

Brief:
The box for the reformulated Milo cereal is an advertisement all on its own, with claims such as nutritious energy cerealnow better 4 youthe goodness of wholegrain with 10 essential vitamins and minerals and that it contains more fibre and a great balance of carbohydrates to get your kids started.

 Energy (kJ / serve)

500kJ / 30g

Top 3 ingredients:
Cereal grains (wholegrain wheat flour 32.5%, wheat flour), sugar, Milo 15.3%.

Also includes:
Vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, calcium, zinc.

 Fibre %

5.3%

 Fat per 100g

4.8g

 Saturated fat per 100g

2.3g

 Sugar per 100g

29.5g

 Sodium per 100g

125mg


Investigation report:

Milo cereal relies on the wholegrain content for its many health claims, but it contains nearly 30% sugar and the more fibre claim merely refers to it now containing slightly more fibre (now a moderate 5.3%) than its previous formula. The statement great balance of carbohydrates leads parents into believing that the high sugar content is a suitable source of energy for children.

Rosemary Stanton:
"Milo cereal piggy-backs on a national fondness for Milo, but with its high sugar content it cannot claim any superior moral ground for good nutrition even though the pack says it is 'now better 4 you'."

Read about what Nestle had to say  here (PDF 443Kb).

Verdict:   

STAMPcerealoffender


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Suspect: Lowan Cocoa Bombs

Brief:
Lowan Cocoa Bombs are often sold from the health food aisles of supermarkets due its emphasis on being gluten free. It also claims to be low fat and high in complex carbohydrates.

 Energy (kJ / serve)

570kJ / 35g

Top 3 ingredients:
Rice flour, sugar, cocoa 3%.

Also includes:
No added vitamins or minerals.

 Fibre %

3.0%

 Fat per 100g

1.6g

 Saturated fat per 100g

1.3g

 Sugar per 100g

29.8g

 Sodium per 100g

130mg


Investigation report:
Cocoa Bombs are disappointingly low in fibre, high in sugar and contain no wholegrains at all. This cereal is deceptively positioned as a health food in the supermarket because it is gluten free, yet its top two ingredients are rice flour and sugar, making it a poor choice for children regardless of their dietary requirements. 

Rosemary Stanton:
"People with special dietary requirements are paying a dear price for their health by consuming a product that is 30% sugar. And all consumers are being deceived by a marketing trick when this unhealthy cereal is specifically located in the health food aisle."  

Read about what Lowan's had to say here (PDF 1MB).

Verdict:   

STAMPcerealoffender

 

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Suspect: Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids

Brief:
Weet-Bix Kids is a salt-reduced version of regular Weet Bix, that claims to be giving your kids the best start to the day and to provide 1/3 of your child's daily calcium and iron needs. The pack states that it is packed with B Vitamins and that it does not contain artificial colours or flavours. The product is even endorsed by The Wiggles, and their instantly recognisable branding features on the packaging.

 Energy (kJ / serve)

444kJ / 30g

Top 3 ingredients:
Wholegrain wheat (96%), raw sugar, minerals.

Also includes:
Zinc, iron, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, potassium.

 Fibre %

11.0%

 Fat per 100g

1.4g

 Saturated fat per 100g

0.3g

 Sugar per 100g

2.9g

 Sodium per 100g

110mg


Investigation report:

Weet-Bix Kids was the standout healthy choice cereal for kids to eat every day. It is packed with wholegrains, low in sugar, salt and fat and high in fibre. It also contains added vitamins and minerals.

Rosemary Stanton:
"Weet-Bix kids lives up to all of its on-pack claims and proves that it is possible to create a fun and popular healthy children's cereal."          

Verdict:   

STAMPbadgeofhonour

 

 

 

 

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