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Is Your Bowl Of Cornflakes A Sugar Bomb?

19/07/2016 7:17 PM IST | Updated 20/07/2016 8:39 AM IST
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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many of us wake up every morning looking forward to a bowl of cornflakes or some other cereal. That's because we have been told that cereals are a healthy breakfast, and a great way to start the day. But is that bowl of cereal (usually eaten with milk and sugar) really the best way to kick-start your day? I'm not too sure about that.

Many of the popular breakfast cereals (even the oats) available in the market have added sugar. Many people sprinkle in even more sugar to the cereals, especially when it isn't very obvious that the product already has sugar. It all amounts to a fairly large amount of sugar for one meal, and people generally have the same thing for breakfast several times a week. This is a huge food safety issue because excess sugar intake has been directly associated with risks of a whole host of lifestyle diseases, ranging from obesity to diabetes to coronary heart disease.

I think brands should recommend (on the packaging) that people refrain from adding more sugar to their cereal.

I must point out here that Kellogg's has come out with their own publication highlighting the benefits of consuming their breakfast cereal products (breakfast cereals in general, actually). The article specifically deals with the concerns about sugar content in cereals, among other issues. However, it is important to know that even if the sugar content in certain cereals is relatively low, people add the stuff to it. That's where the major problem lies. Of course, the manufacturer cannot be blamed for this, but I think brands should recommend (on the packaging) that people refrain from adding more sugar to their cereal.

Breakfast cereals are very often directly marketed to kids and mothers. Take for example, a Kellogg's Chocos or Honey Loops. The advertising content for these cereals is specifically targeted at kids. A study found that children who consumed cereals with high sugar content consumed significantly more refined sugar than kids who ate low-sugar cereals. The study also pointed out that consuming high-sugar cereals lowered the nutritional value of the child's breakfast. The problem here is not with the cereal itself. The problem is that most kids, and people in general actually, have only the cereal for breakfast. Cereals when eaten by themselves are not a good breakfast because they have very low protein content and low micronutrient diversity. I recommend that if you are eating cereal for breakfast, have it as part of a balanced meal which includes a good source of protein and lots of vegetables.

Breakfast cereals by themselves may not necessarily be a food safety issue. But adding sugar to them, as is commonly done in our country makes it a safety issue. Having an "added sugar" warning displayed prominently on the packaging might help. Also, as I pointed out earlier, the brands themselves could recommend that people don't add sugar to their products. Personally, I would rather have a high protein breakfast like eggs, veggies and a large cup of coffee (black). But that's just me. It's up to you to eat healthy and stay safe.

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