Latest News

Senate defense bill has $66M less for Wright-Patt project than House

COMMENTARY: Thinking a bit outside the (cereal) box

I’m no nutritionist, but I do read labels and pay attention to prices. And on the surface, the sugar content of kids’ cereals is alarming, and the pricing ridiculous.

Consider a typical $4 box. A family with three growing kids could go through a box of cereal for breakfast. That’s $120 per month.

(Brief aside: If you conscientiously add juice with breakfast, please check the percentage of real juice on the back or side label; most of it is corn syrup, probably HFCS, with very little juice … probably 8 to 24 percent.)

The cereal industry has been repeatedly investigated and apparently everything’s legal, just maybe not moral. If conscientious parents have sticker-shock, the industry actually says we should use coupons. Really! Reportedly over half of cereal sold is “couponed.” But a “dollar off three” doesn’t help much, an 8.3 percent cost reduction in our example. It’s much more economical to buy generic or store brands. Whatever your opinion of generics, this would seem a benign case.

Cereal is grain. A box of cold cereal is grain that’s toasted, flaked, puffed, rolled, heavily sugared, or otherwise processed in huge quantities, weighed and put into plastic bags inside attractive colorful boxes. There’s probably not much more than a handful of grain in a box. And probably a handful of sugar or outright candy. And, rarely for kids, a few good things like raisins or almonds. But essentially grain and sugar.

A widely publicized study reported in Forbes tested 181 kids’ cereals and found many some 50 percent sugar by weight; only 10 met their standard for low sugar. They found cereals marketed to kids contained on average 40 percent more sugar than adult cereals, and that such kids start their day with more than half their recommended daily sugar.

Among the worst as tested: Honey Smacks and Golden Crisp. (Ironically, before a sugar backlash a few years ago, these were called, respectively, Sugar Smacks and Super Sugar Crisp … and the change was in name only.) WebMD also has the same test data. Recommendations from the study: Rice Crispies, Cheerios and Crispex (or generic or store brands of these).

Note also that the nutrition data required on the box, such as calories and sugar, are based on a serving size, which for many cereals is three-quarters of a cup. Did you ever give a growing boy three-quarters of a cup of cereal? Even the testers use the term “bowl,” meaning 1 1/2 cups, or twice the quoted serving size.

There’s absolutely no reason to pay high prices for sugar in a cereal box, especially considering our sugar surplus and governmental sugar subsidies. Even if we don’t value your children’s health, or concern ourselves with rampant child obesity and its devastating psychological and medical problems, at least let’s have concern for our pocketbooks. (BTW, what’s a “pocketbook”?)

I was also disappointed to see the Little League World Series sponsored, not by nutritional Kellogg’s Cereals, but by “Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes.” Some kind of choice — allowing for hundreds of sugar-filled commercials during the long playoffs, and lots of young T-Ballers and Little Leaguers clamoring for Tony the Tiger, “They’re Grrrrrreat!” Maybe not.

David Shumway is one of our regular community contributors.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

COMMENTARY: Remember the Marshall Plan as we debate foreign aid

As members of Congress consider the future of American foreign aid, it’s vital they remember the great American foreign policy adventure that started 70 years ago this month. A ship from Texas, filled with wheat, arrived in France to a hero’s welcome. This was the opening act of the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe from the ashes of World...
Opinion: Trump is proving to be most pro-life president in history

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s critics were apoplectic last week when the president referred to MS-13 gang members as “animals.” Of course, no one should be dehumanized. Yet many of the same people expressing outrage that Trump would dehumanize vicious gang members have no problem dehumanizing innocent, unborn children. Trump...
Opinion: How Trump gets into your bed

It’s not every day we start our discussion of current events with the president’s sex life. Well, actually, it’s gotten to be pretty frequent. But today we’re going to talk less about what Donald Trump does in bed and more about his efforts to interfere with other people’s intimate affairs. “When I ran for office...
What if our big bets on artificial intelligence go wrong?

In case you haven’t heard, Artificial Intelligence is here at last, and from the attention it’s getting, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s the next big thing, the best thing since sliced bread, and King Kong on a bad day all rolled into one. In fact, the word on the street is that AI will either solve every problem known to...
Opinion: Challenging Trump’s Christian apologists

WASHINGTON — Maybe it takes a royal wedding to offer lessons in what a good sermon sounds like. Maybe it takes one of the world’s most elitist institutions to provide a view of Christianity rooted not in conservative cultural warfare but in an egalitarian love that will “let justice roll down like a mighty stream.” And the Most...
More Stories