Sugar-laden breakfast cereals aren’t the only options that children will eat. Given the chance, children ate -- and liked -- cereals that were lower in sugar, according to a new study from Yale that says the kids added extra fruit, too.
Jennifer Harris, lead author of the study appearing today in the journal Pediatrics, tested six cereals among 91 summer day campers in New England who were 5 to 12 years old. Randomly divided into two groups, half were offered their choice of three high-sugar cereals and half were offered three low-sugar cereals. The children could eat as much milk, orange juice, bananas, and strawberries with the cereal as they wanted; they could also sprinkle a packet of sugar on top.
After breakfast the children rated the cereals and researchers calculated how much food and calories they consumed. In both groups, the children said they “loved” or liked” the breakfast. The low-sugar group ate a little more than a standard 35-gram serving of cereal, but the high-sugar group consumed almost twice as much cereal and calories from sugar, even though more children in the low-sugar group added sugar to their cereal. A little more than half of the low-sugar group put fruit on top compared to 8 percent of the high-sugar group.
“These findings show that children will eat low-sugar varieties of cereals. And parents can make these options even more nutritious by adding fresh fruit to the bowl,” Harris said. “Even if parents add a small amount of table sugar, this strategy would reduce the amount of sugar in children’s diets while also promoting a balanced first meal of the day.”
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