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breakfast cereals and the breakfast cereal industy


ACFM Statement on Sugar

19 March 2014

The reality is breakfast cereals are packed with nutrients, and play an important part in the UK diet. In the average British diet breakfast cereals contribute a mere five per cent of the total added sugar intake (1). Some ready to eat cereals contain no or little sugar.

BCIS fast facts:
  • There is no hidden sugar in breakfast cereals – all packs are clearly labelled
  • Exchanging the proportion of carbohydrates such as decreasing sugar and increasing starch will not change the total calorie content of a food. This is because carbohydrates contribute the same calories (4 kilocalories/gram).
  • Research shows that children and young adults who eat breakfast cereal are less likely to be overweight than their counterparts who skip breakfast (2,3)
  • Some breakfast cereals contain dried fruit, a source of naturally-occurring sugars
  • Half of total added sugar intakes in breakfast cereals come from products which are also high in fibre (1)

Breakfast cereals should not be portrayed as making a large contribution to sugar in the diet as this is a misleading interpretation.

Benefits of breakfast cereals: At a glance
  • They contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals
  • Many cereals have added vitamin D and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has identified fortified cereals as one of the few dietary sources of this important nutrient. (4)
  • Many breakfast cereals are a source of fibre and provide wholegrain
  • They provide a good source of starch (complex carbohydrates)
  • They are typically low in fat
  • Evidence shows that children and adults who regularly eat breakfast cereals are more likely to have healthier diets overall (5) and a diet with a better nutritional profile (6)

Breakfast cereal companies are continually researching the current trends in people’s health needs and tastes, and develop a range of breakfast cereals to try and meet these requirements and preferences.

Note to editors:
  • UK government recommends total daily free sugars in the diet should not exceed 10% of total energy (7).
For further information contact us at: info@breakfastcereal.org

(1) NDNS Year 1-2; https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216484/dh_128550.pdf; www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/216485/dh_128556.pdf
(2) House of Commons Health Committee Report on Obesity, 2004.
(3) Deshmukh-Taskar P, Nicklas TA, Radcliffe JD et al. The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumed with overweight/obesity, abdominal obesity, other cardio metabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in young adults. The National Health and Nutrition Examination
(4) http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13795/63153/63153.pdf page 3
(5) Crawley (1993). The role of breakfast cereals in the diets of 16-17 year old teenagers in Britain. Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics 6: 205-216.
(6) van den Boom A, Serra-Majem L, Ribas L et al. The contribution of ready-to-eat cereals to daily nutrient intake and breakfast quality in a Mediterranean setting. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Apr;25(2):135-43.
(7) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216483/dh_128542.pdf