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Sugar Cereal: Better Than No Breakfast at All?

Cocoa Pebbles

Is it better for kids to eat nothing rather than the equivalent of a donut in the morning?

Post Cereal recently announced they’re reducing the sugar content of Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles starting next month from 11 grams to 9 grams per serving.

While the news is undoubtedly a step in the right direction in the fight against childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes* and other weight-related ailments, exactly when did dessert become acceptable for breakfast in the first place? What’s the difference between a chocolate chip muffin and a cupcake, for example? Are donuts, pastries, sticky buns and Danish really the best foods to start the day (not to mention sausage and bacon)? Is the idea of breakfast to just get something — anything — in a kid’s stomach, or is it supposed to be something of nutritional substance?

When I was a kid, all I ever wanted was Cookie Crisp or Count Chocula in the morning. Cocoa Krispies would have been fine, too, but in my little mind it seemed healthier (and therefore less appealing) since it was made from rice.

However, Cream of Wheat, Farina or scrambled eggs was what I was actually allowed to have. It bummed me out then, but I’m grateful now that the idea of sugary cereal doesn’t appeal to me, unless it’s molded with melted marshmallows and butter into a little block — for dessert. I have a raging sweet tooth, but it generally sleeps in until after dinner.

For me, dessert was always (and is often still) just a treat. Which is why I have trouble justifying how you serve your kid something called Cupcake Pebbles or Marshmallow Pebbles for breakfast, and every day?

I’m far from the world’s best parent, and my daughter’s diet doesn’t have a lot of variety, but when she asks for chocolate, for the most part I say no unless I can mentally calculate that she’s had enough fruit, vegetables and protein for the day. And she’s certainly not getting it at breakfast.

I really can’t imagine why parents serve their kids breakfast regularly with anything loaded with chocolate or other food that could double as Halloween candy if packaged differently. It can’t be because it’s all they’ll eat, particularly since it’s a parent’s job to introduce their children to healthy food and teach them how to incorporate smart choices into their lives. And it can’t be a money issue, since it’s just as easy to find an affordable, healthy cereal as a cheap, sugary one.

Post Cereal isn’t the first to lower the sugar content in its cereals. PepsiCo announced plans earlier this year to launch a reduced sugar instant oatmeal. General Mills shaved the amount of sugar grams in Lucky Charms, Trix and Cocoa Puffs down to single digits, too.

I’m just not sure that any of them deserve more than a polite round of applause for reducing the sugar content by a few grams. What would get a standing ovation (from me, at least) would be if chocolate took a permanent vacation from the breakfast aisle.

Do you think it’s okay for kids to eat a sugary breakfast? Is it better than no breakfast at all?

*Thank you to @Setting the Record Straight on Diabetes for prompting this clarification.

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