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The Bad News about Kids' Cereal

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It's been confirmed: Bright pink and green poofy-puffs aren't the best food for our kids.


A study came out in the new Journal of the American Dietietic Association blasting the nutritional value of kids' cereals. What do they suggest we feed them--egg white veggie omelettes? We asked friend of momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson to weigh in.

Momlogic: Are kids' cereals bad for kids?

Dr. Cara: Any food that is high in sugar, high in sodium, low in fiber, and low in protein probably doesn't qualify as "healthy." This study compares cereals marketed specifically to kids, (for instance with recognizable characters on the box) to adult cereals, and finds that kids' cereals are significantly less healthy. Two-thirds of the kids cereals studied had so much sugar that they failed national nutritional standards.

Momlogic: What's a healthier alternative?

Dr. Cara: If your child is a cereal-lover, try adult-style cereals with less sugar and artificial ingredients. Oatmeal is another good alternative, but make sure you are not giving a brand that is just as high in sugar as the dry cereal.

Try offering completely different foods. Eggs are a great source of protein, and for the kid with no time to stop and eat, a hard-boiled egg can be taken on the go. Yogurt with fruit is another healthy start. The yogurt gives protein and calcium; the fruit adds fiber and satisfies the sweet craving. Again, for kids on the go, you can blend it into a portable smoothie. If your child is a bagel-lover, top the bagel off with cheese or peanut butter to get some additional protein.

Momlogic: Should kids eat adult cereals?

Dr. Cara: There is nothing in an adult cereal that is bad for a child. Quite the opposite. This is true of a wide variety of foods, from yogurt designed for kids to kiddie snack foods. Children have been carved out as a very powerful brand--there are entire aisles in the supermarket dedicated to what kids will want to buy. But just because they want it doesn't mean they need it.

What do you think: Are kids' cereals fine or total crap?

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
April May 2, 2008, 11:35 AM


Ginny May 2, 2008, 4:11 PM

My kids have always eaten yogurt, fruit, and whole grain waffles for breakfast. However, we do eat the ‘kid’ cereals on occasion, but as a snack. We treat it the same as eating cookies or ice cream.

Stephanie May 2, 2008, 7:43 PM

Is this really surprising? Of course that sugary cereal is junk.
Most stuff tailored for kids is absolute garbage, I would hope most parents would know this.
As long as you are giving them healthy options most of the time, they will be fine.

sarah May 7, 2008, 10:23 PM

I”m so glad my kids that are 4 and 6 have not had much of a chance to eat that nasty kids cereal. Mine have been eating Cherrios, Life, Quaker oat squares, Crispx, and Chex since they were toddlers. Now you give them the “childs” cereal and they don’t like it it is to sweet. I guess i am pretty lucky.

Cindy May 7, 2008, 11:44 PM

I am amazed that it takes an article like this to convince a parent that the “kid” cereal is a bunch of junk. I have avoided buying those “kid” cereals and always told my children they were bad for their teeth, etc. I’m fortunate that my kids are creatures of habit. 7-year old twins - my son still eats Gerber’s oatmeal. He likes to mix w/Cheerios. My daughter is content with a waffle, Cheerios, or my adult cereal. On weekends its eggs, pancakes, or a bagel on the run.

JoAnna May 9, 2008, 8:04 AM

Isn’t it funny how we as Moms feel we need to explain ourselves when an article like this comes out? My little one eats healthy, with an occasional treat when the Grandparents are over. However, there are many children that are obese and as a Mom seeing an obese child should be enough to make the right decisions for your children.

Maryann May 13, 2008, 12:14 PM

What nutritional numbers on the side of the box for sugar, sodium & fiber make good or bad choices? What other numbers should I be looking at. My son practically lives on cereal and he gets a clean bill of health at the doctor and dentist for all of his checkups and he’s growing like he should.

stp May 19, 2008, 10:03 PM

sorry, adult cereals are crap also. ever read the ingredients? want healthy? feed them fruit. (not frozen not canned ok? come on fresh already)

milk? give it up already… bring on the hardened arteries… get them soymilk.

cereal is a scam overall. you’re technically feeding them petro animal waste with very little grain leftover.

milk is just one huge fat corpusal waiting to plug up the left ventricle.

whoever said cereal was good for you is the same jerk who says eggs are great, milk is full of calcium and helps give you strong bones????! and meat has protein and iron! HOOT!

Lori November 26, 2008, 10:03 AM

I know I am done buying “kid” cereals! My daughter is on her 3rd cold since school started this year. I will definitely be making better choices for my kids’ breakfast food from here on out.

Tiny May 10, 2011, 6:38 AM

Lighten up. Jeez… you dont always have to give your kids “the best” stuff.

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