Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Low-Sugar Cereal Helps Kids Choose The Right Portion

A Yale study shows that kids who are given low-sugar cereals choose a healthier portion than ones given a high-sugar alternative.

friutloops

Photo: Zanastardust (flickr)

New research finds that children offered a low-sugar breakfast cereal enjoyed it just as much as those given high-sugar options.

A new Yale study, published earlier this week, found that kids enjoy low-sugar breakfast cereals just as much as high-sugar alternatives.

Researchers tested 91 children between the ages 5-12 at a summer day camp last year. They randomly assigned the choice of 1 of 3 high-sugar or low-sugar cereals. The children were also given milk, orange juice, fruits and sugar packets to choose from and complete their meals.

Not only did kids report “liking” or “loving” either cereal, the ones given the low-sugar option consumed, on average, just one bowl of the food. The high-sugar group consumed an average of two bowls. In addition, kids in the low-sugar group were more likely to put fruit on their cereal, thus eating a more balanced breakfast.

Marlene Schwartz, one of the study’s lead researchers and deputy director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said cereal manufacturers justify high-sugar cereals by saying kids won’t like it otherwise.

“They say, ‘Kids won’t eat the low sugar; you have to add sugar or they won’t eat anything,’ and we just didn’t believe that.”

This study shows that children will enjoy cereal even if the sugar content is low. Schwartz gives a possible explanation: “Fruit is obviously not as sweet as Froot Loops. The low-sugar cereal gives kids an opportunity to appreciate the natural sweetness of juice and fresh fruit.”

More: Kids Don’t Always Prefer Sweet Cereals (CNN coverage)

Sarah Kaiser

Sarah Kaiser is a student-turned-townie living in Bloomington, Indiana. A social media specialist at Solution Tree, she spends her days tweeting and her nights foraging at the local summer market for new tastes and flavors. And occasionally rocking out on the ukulele.

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