Which Cereals Have the Most Sugar?

Froot Loops, Cheerios, Cap'n Crunch. These are among the top 10 sweetest brand name breakfasts that aren't exactly healthy for your children.

Which Kids Cereals Have the Most Sugar?

Bright and colorful, speckled with marshmallows or cocoa (or both) and, of course, hawked by fun characters: What’s not for kids to love when it comes to brand-name cereals? Plenty, when it comes to the small matter of which cereals have the most sugar.

Breakfast matters, after all. But while this stuff makes mealtime fun, parents, on the other hand, are on to this sweet scheme. And in some cases, the truth is enough to turn your stomach – or at least make you really consider breaking the sugar habit in your family.

Wondering just which of those colorful and cleverly named cereals have the most sugar? So were we. Lucky for families, the Harvard School of Public Health‘s Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List did a lot of the dirty detective work, detailing dozens of popular brands.

Pulling from that – as well as roundup of the 10 worst children’s cereals, by the Environmental Working Group from 2011 (in 2014, its most recent update, the group noted  it found “not one on the 2011 ‘worst’ list had lowered its sugar content over the last three years”) – we created our own top 10 list of offenders, based on sheer percentages of sugar.

When it comes to dietary guidelines, these options certainly aren’t your allies. So hold onto your nutrition labels. Let’s find out where your kid’s favorite cereal ranks.

10. Cocoa Krispies (39%)

This flavored version of the rice classic instantly creates chocolate milk. Originally introduced in the late ’50s, today, this cereal checks in at a 39 percent sugar content (based on a 3/4 cup serving).

Source: Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List

9. Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Waffle Crisp (40%)

General Mills and Post tie up in this category. Harvard looked at 3/4 cup of the Cheerios and a cup of the crisp. Both pack in 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Source: Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List

8. Corn Pops, Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs (41%)

Yeah, there are loose references to veggies and fruit. But these four cereals practically poo-poo produce with their strong sugar showings. Heck, one is even based on a chocolate candy!

Sources: Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List and Environmental Working Group

7. Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries (42%)

Making his first of several appearances, the kindly Cap’n’s “fortified” spin on berries promises “a balanced breakfast you can feel good about eating when paired with low-fat milk and fruit or a glass of 100% juice.” And 42% sugar!

Source: Environmental Working Group

6. Apple Jacks, Smorz (43%)

A pair of Kellogg’s offerings checks in next. Conjuring images of up all-American fun and campfires, these two cereals pack-in the sweet stuff – along with box-touted “goodies” like fiber and Vitamin D.

Sources: Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List and Environmental Working Group

5. Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Count Chocula, Quaker Oats Oh!s (44%)

No wonder Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is bouncing off the walls! These four cereals, which check in at 44% sugar, also boast some of the most iconic mascots.

Sources: Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List and Environmental Working Group

4. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries (47%)

Mr. Crunch is at it again. And his little berry mishap has resulted in nearly 47% sugar, based on weight.

Source: Environmental Working Group

3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow (48%)

Toucan Sam sweetens the deal – literally – by adding tropical colored marshmallows to the mix. And upping that sugar content.

Source: Environmental Working Group

2. Post Golden Crisp (52%)

Tipping the halfway scales, appropriately enough, is Sugar Bear. For over 50 years, this guy’s been sharing his sweet tooth. “Can’t get enough of that… ” may be his tagline, but not exactly a healthy breakfast table mantra!

Source: Environmental Working Group

1. Honey Smacks (56%)

When it comes to the sugar smack-down, there’s no question: That frog gets the job done. This Kellogg’s product has 15 grams of sugar per serving. Appropriately enough, it launched in 1953 as – wait for it – Sugar Smacks. Dig’em!

Source: Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List

Looking for some alternatives to other common sugary snacks? Browse this list of healthy alternatives.

Main photo by Glenn Triest

This post is updated regularly.

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