Children's cereals were classified as those that had a character on the box, toys or games inside, or the company's Web site listed the brand as a children's cereal.
Kids’ cereals had more sugar, sodium, carbohydrate and calories per gram than non-children's cereals, and less protein and fiber. Sugar accounted for more than one-third of the weight of children's cereals, on average, compared to less than one-quarter of the adult cereals.
Studies have shown that eating breakfast can have beneficial effects on:
- Insulin resistance
- Energy metabolism
However, feeding your child sugary kids-cereals is not the wisest or brightest breakfast choice. Kids’ cereals are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, neither of which benefits your child’s health.
Obesity has become a major concern for American children, with sugar and carbohydrates being two of the major culprits contributing to this growing problem.
In the last two decades, the prevalence of overweight adolescents has nearly tripled, and current statistics show 16 percent of children are overweight or obese.
Overweight and obese children not only face a heightened risk of health problems -- heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few -- but they are also likely to suffer from low self-esteem and depression as a result of their weight. Being overweight or obese can take a big emotional toll on a young child or teen.
According to this study, one serving of cereal equated to 11 percent of the daily limit of added sugar for active boys, aged 14 to 18 years old, and an astounding 92 percent of the daily sugar intake for sedentary girls aged 9 to 13.
The problem with feeding your child foods high in added sugar is twofold -- they contain little in terms of vitamins and minerals, and the calories they contain are not made up of important micronutrients needed for health and growth.
Reducing sugar intake should be on the top of your list regardless of whether your child is currently overweight or not, because it’s been proven over and over that sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
- Premature aging, and more
In fact, sugar is bad for your health in so many ways, I’ve compiled an entire list outlining 100-Plus Ways in Which Sugar Can Damage Your Health!
Now, having said that, completely eliminating sugar from your child’s diet is probably not reasonable, or even necessary. While it clearly will decrease your child’s health, sugar in moderation is likely not going to cause any significant damage.
What do I mean by moderation?
Well, something on the order of five pounds a year. This is considerably less than the average amount Americans consume, which is closer to 175 pounds per year.
Taking a close look at the sugar content of your child’s cereal, which is consumed on a daily basis, is therefore necessary. Just how much sugar are you feeding your child each day?
One 2005 study that analyzed the daily sugar intake of 5,000 toddlers ranging in age from 2 to 5, found that, on average, 2- to 3-year olds consumed around 14 teaspoons of added sugar a day. This number jumped to 17 teaspoons daily among 4- to 5-year olds. That’s WAY too much!
However, I propose you take things one step further than simply switching for a brand with lower sugar content.
Because of the grains.
How Much Grain Does Your Child Need?
Grains are such common staples that most can’t imagine them not being good for you. But all of these common items really should be avoided when planning your child’s breakfast:
- Fruit juice and other sugary drinks
- Waffles and pancakes
- Bagels and toast (even whole grain organic types)
- ALL cereals (even whole grain organic types)
Carb types can actually do well with grains, but remember; only about 15 percent of the population are carb types, at best. So for the majority, grains and cereals should be limited or avoided as much as possible.
Because grains rapidly break down to sugar in your body, stimulating insulin production. So you’re right back to the issue of too much sugar again.
I’ve written an entire book on the subject of children’s health and nutrition called Generation XL: Raising Healthy, Intelligent Kids in a High-Tech, Junk-Food World. Not only does it offer lots of tips for how to get your kids to lead more active lives, it also explains Nutritional Typing and how you can help ensure your child gets the nutrition he or she really needs, setting the stage for lifelong optimal health. It even includes 74 pages of kid-approved recipes that satisfy even your picky eaters.
What Else Can Your Child Eat For Breakfast?
My primary recommendation for Carb and Mixed nutritional types is to prepare and consume fresh vegetable juice, making sure to also eat the pulp. (It’s loaded with so many valuable phytonutrients, it would be unwise to discard it.) Veggie juice is a really simple breakfast alternative, and suitable even for your youngest ones.
Juicing may not be the best option for Protein types (like me), however, so if your child is a Protein type, you’d want to limit them to 10 ounces or less of raw juice each day, and restrict the vegetables to lower potassium varieties such as spinach and celery.
Here’s another option; a kid-approved breakfast recipe, straight from my book.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup sliced zucchini
4 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons water
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ cup rice mozzarella shredded (optional)
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add mushrooms and zucchini. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are crisply tender (4-5 minutes). Remove from skillet and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together remaining omelet ingredients except olive oil and cheese. In same skillet, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil. Pour egg mixture into skillet. Cook over medium heat, lifting with spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath until omelet is set (3-4 minutes.) Place sautéed vegetables and cheese on half of omelet. Gently fold other half of omelet over filling.