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Cereal Bars’ Healthy Image a Myth

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Cereal Bars’ Healthy Image a Myth

Cereal Bars’ Healthy Image a Myth
August 24
10:12 2012

Few cereal bars deserve their healthy image, as new research from Which? reveals high levels of fat, sugar and calories. All but one of the 30 cereal bars Which? compared from best-selling brands were high in sugar with 16 bars over 30 per cent sugar.

One bar (Nutrigrain Elevensies) contained nearly four teaspoons’ worth of sugar (18g) – that is more sugar than in a small 150ml can of cola (15.9g) and 20% of the recommended daily allowance. Almost a third of a Tracker Roasted Nut bar was found to be fat and, while some of this comes from the peanuts and hazelnuts content providing some nutritional benefit, the ingredients also contained vegetable fat.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd.

Monster Puffs, a cereal bar marketed to children and described as “great for your lunchbox”, contained 43.5% sugar, the equivalent of more than 2 teaspoons of sugar. Six out of the seven cereal bars targeted at children were high in saturated fat which, if eaten in large quantities, raises cholesterol levels. Which? wants to see manufacturers reduce levels of sugar and fat in food products marketed to children and tighter controls over the way these are promoted.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says: “People often choose cereal bars in the belief they’re healthier than chocolate or biscuits but our research shows this can be a myth. With high levels of sugar and saturated fat in some of these products they should be on the sweet counter not marketed as health foods.”

He adds: “Manufacturers need to be much clearer about how much sugar, fat and calories are loaded in to each bar so people can make an informed choice. We want all foods to have traffic light colour coding system so people can see easily what they’re eating and giving to their children.”

Some cereal bars did live up to their healthy reputation. The Nakd Apple Pie was the only bar Which? looked at that didn’t contain any added sugar. Alpen Light Apple and Sultana was the only bar to have three green traffic lights for fat, saturated fat and salt indicating that the levels were low – and also had the lowest calories overall. Weetabix Oaty Strawberry Crusher bar was the healthiest choice for children with its low salt content and medium levels of fat and saturated fat.

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