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Sugar Smackdown? Kids Dig Unsweetened Cereal

A new study from Yale University contradicts the food industry and suggests that children will eat low-sugar breakfast cereal when it's given to them.

The study notes that conventional wisdom among cereal manufacturers has been that a lot of sugar is needed to get kids to like it. Study results were published recently in the journal Pediatrics . Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson and Rudd Foundations funded the research.

Researchers studied children at a summer camp last year, where 91 children between the ages of five and 12 took part in the study. About half were offered sugary cereals (Froot Loops, Cocoa Pebbles and Frosted Flakes), and the others given low-sugar options (Cheerios, Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes).

On average, the children in the high-sugar group ate almost two bowls, while the low-sugar group ate a little more than one bowl. All the cereals, high-sugar and low-sugar, received high marks for taste. Both groups were allowed to add sugar to their cereal. But even with the added sugar, the low-sugar cereal proved more healthful because the kids ate smaller portions.

Breakfast cereal broke through to the general public at the turn of the 20th century, when it was marketed as a new health food. Companies began adding significant amounts of sugar in the 1940s when familiar (and now extinct) names like Sugar Frosted Flakes and Sugar Smacks ruled the shelves. In the 1960s and early 70s, companies began marketing the products directly to children, via television, which aggravated the growing problem.

Do you (gasp) serve your children sugary cereals? Of course not. We didn't think so. What do you give your kids for breakfast? Let us know here.

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