News Children's Food Campaign

Cereals and yogurts aimed at children are packed with excessive sugar

Action on Sugar and supporters call for the removal of packaging that appeals to children from unhealthy cereals and yogurts which contain excessive amounts of sugars.

Credit: Image from iStock

Credit: Image from iStock

New research from Action on Sugar reveals that breakfast cereals and yogurts with child-friendly packaging contain excessive sugars, with certain items having up to four teaspoons of sugar per recommended serving.

Despite notable reductions in sugar content (14.9% in cereals and 13.5% in yogurts) between 2015 and 2020, as part of the Government’s Sugar Reduction Programme, they still fall short of the intended 20% reduction target.

Action on Sugar undertook a comparison of the average sugar content per 100g across products from major companies, all of which featured packaging designed to attract children's attention. This includes the use of cartoon characters, animations, vibrant colours and familiar characters that strongly resonate with children.

Here are just some of the key findings:

  • 47% of cereals and 65% of yogurts surveyed contained one third of a 4–6-year-old's daily maximum sugars recommendation (19g/ 5tsp) based on the recommended servings.
  • On average, Lidl, Nestle and Aldi contained the highest sugars per 100g across their range of both cereals and yogurts with packaging that appeals to children. 
  • Just nine cereals and six yogurts were found to be low in sugars

While there are currently no restrictions on the visual appeal and design of packaging aimed at children, one proposed solution is to channel these visually captivating packaging tactics towards healthier food items.

Dr Kawther Hashem, Campaign Lead at Action on Sugar said:

“It’s ludicrous that whilst breakfast cereals and yogurts celebrate the largest reductions in sugars during the Sugar Reduction Programme, those same products with child-appealing packaging still have excessive amounts of sugars, unsuitable for regular intake by children.

Given the soaring numbers of under-18s suffering weight-related health problems and tooth decay being the leading cause of child hospitalisation, now is the time for companies to be forced to remove child-appealing packaging from products that are misleading parents and making our children unhealthy and sick. ”

Read Action on Sugar's full announcement here.

Published 22 Aug 2023

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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