Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Serving low-sugar cereals can encourage children to eat more fresh fruit!

Do you serve high-sugar cereals to the children in your care?  I have found that sometimes providers believe that children won't accept cereal if it isn't pre-sweetened.  If this is the case for you, a study in the journal Pediatrics may change your mind.  

A recent study shows that children not only accept low-sugar cereals readily, but they are actually more likely to choose a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast if they are served low-sugar cereals.  In the study, the children were divided into 2 groups.  One group was allowed to chose from 3 high-sugar cereal varieties, and the other group was allowed to chose from 3 low-sugar cereals.  Both groups were also offered milk, orange juice, cut-up strawberries and bananas, and small packets of table sugar.  The kids in this study who ate the low-sugar cereal were more likely to add fresh fruit to their bowl of cereal than those eating the high-sugar cereals.  In addition, the kids in the high-sugar cereal group ate nearly twice the amount of sugar as the children in the low-sugar cereal group!  What I found especially interesting about this study is that even though the children were allowed to add some sugar to the low-sugar cereals, they still added less than was found in the higher-sugar varieties.  (In case you are wondering, the low-sugar cereals were Cheerios, Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies and the high-sugar cereals were Froot Loops, Cocoa Pebbles, and Frosted Flakes). 

Some cereals that contain several teaspoons of sugar are indeed creditable on the Child and Adult Care Food Program, but that doesn't mean that they are the best choice for breakfast for kids.  Most children get way to much sugar in their diet and this study shows that serving low-sugar cereals is an easy way to cut out some of the sugar!  To be a creditable cereal on the CACFP, the first ingredient must be a whole grain or whole grain flour, or an enriched grain or flour. You need to read labels carefully though because some of the cereal companies have started putting more whole grains into their cereals, but are still adding a lot of extra sugar too.   Look for cereal varieties that have whole grains and little added sugar, and then take a tip from this study and put out bowls of cut-up fruit for children to add to their bowls!

1 comment:

  1. We use the higher sugar cereals as a "topping" for lower sugar cereals like Cheerios. They get a spoonful of a Lucky Charms type cereal to sprinkle over their Cheerios It is kind of like allowing them to add a small amount of sugar to their bowl.