Obesity: Are Sugar and Salt To Blame?
Nestlé SA and General Mills recently announced they will reformulate 20 popular breakfast cereals to reduce salt and sugar up to 30% by 2015. The move is focused on breakfast cereals sold outside the U.S., but reflects a growing consumer concern about the impact of sugar and salt on children’s health.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast are significant, especially for children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that:
- Eating breakfast can help improve math, reading, and standardized test scores.
- Children who eat breakfast are more likely to behave better in school and get along with their peers than those who do not.
- Breakfast helps children pay attention, perform problem-solving tasks and improve memory.
The move to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in foods especially enjoyed by children is aimed at reducing obesity and improving nutritional consumer food choices. And while moms everywhere struggle with balancing kids' preferences with healthy food choices for the most important meal of the day, the battle is not limited to popular cereals.
Indeed, when we contacted Best Food Facts experts last year to comment on the move by the Los Angeles School District to eliminate flavored milk from the cafeteria, Andrea Garber, PhD, RD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at University of California - San Francisco, told Best Food Facts that she viewed that move as a step in the right direction. "Foods with high levels of high fructose corn syrup, such as fast food and soda, are contributing to the obesity epidemic."
Dr. Andrea Garber
The recent move by Nestlé and General Mills received positive public attention and, while it does not impact breakfast cereals sold in the U.S., the consensus is that it is good news.
Ruth MacDonald, PhD, RD, professor and chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University says “…my response to this plan by Nestlé is that it is a good move. Lowering sugar and salt in breakfast cereals is a great idea. I can’t think of any reason why they should not do this.”
Dr. Ruth MacDonald
Interested in cutting back on sugars or sodium at your family meals? USDA offers some guidelines:
Click to read Ten Tips to Cut Back on Salt:
Poll Question: Should sugar be regulated like alcohol or tobacco?