(April, 2011) The notion that most kids prefer highly sweetened cereals over low-sugar options did not prove true in a recent trial. Researchers randomly assigned 91 children at a summer day camp to receive breakfasts that included a choice of three high-sugar cereals or three low-sugar cereals. Both groups also had access to orange juice, bananas, strawberries, low-fat milk, and sugar packets.
“In both groups, children reported ‘liking’ or ‘loving’ the cereal they chose,” the researchers wrote. Those in the low-sugar group poured themselves slightly more than one serving of cereal (35 grams), while children in the high-sugar group ate nearly twice as much cereal and almost twice as much refined sugar. Children in the low-sugar group were far more likely to put fruit on their cereal than those in the high-sugar group (54 percent versus 8 percent). The two groups consumed about the same amounts of milk and orange juice.
“High-sugar cereals increase children’s total sugar consumption and reduce the overall nutritional quality of their breakfast,” the researchers conclude. “Children will consume low-sugar cereals when offered.” They suggest that if a parent is concerned that a child will not eat enough of a low-sugar cereal, providing fresh fruit and a small amount of table sugar is a good option.