Cereal offenders: some 'healthy' breakfast foods contain more than 30% sugar

Tuesday, 17 March, 2015

Health groups have called for clearer labelling on breakfast cereals, claiming that some manufacturers could potentially be misleading consumers by promoting health claims on their packaging, despite sugar making up more than 35% of the ingredients of some popular brands.

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) analysed the labels of 20 popular breakfast cereals and found that the majority of products carried healthy sounding claims such as a ‘source of fibre’, ‘69% wholegrain’ and ‘no artificial flavours’ - though some contained more than one-third sugar.

Jane Martin is executive manager of the OPC, a partnership between Diabetes Australia-Vic, Cancer Council Victoria and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University. She says the Coalition is urging all cereal manufacturers to adopt Australia’s voluntary Health Star Rating labelling system.

“The Health Star Rating System was introduced more than a year ago to help consumers compare the overall nutritional quality of products at a glance.

“Nutrition panels can also provide helpful information if people know what the information means. When it comes to sugar, for example, knowing foods containing over 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams are considered ‘high’ in sugar helps people decide whether that’s a product they want to eat. Similarly for salt, a product with over 400 mg of sodium per 100 grams is considered high in salt.

“We commend those companies who have already incorporated the voluntary Star Rating System on their packaging including Sanitarium, Uncle Tobys, Coles and Woolworths,” said Martin.

The average sugar content of all 20 cereals analysed was 19.8 g per 100 g, equating to about 5 teaspoons of sugar.

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