Cereal bars: Healthy image a myth - Which?

Spoonful of sugar Many of the cereal bars were found to be high in sugar

Related Stories

The image of cereal bars as a healthy snack is a "myth", according to a study by Which?

The consumer group found all but one of the 30 bars it analysed were high in sugar, with more than half containing over 30% sugar.

One bar, Nutri-Grain Elevenses, contained nearly four teaspoons - more than in a small can of cola and 20% of the recommended daily allowance.

Other snacks it analysed were found to be high in fat and saturated fat.

The Tracker Roasted Nut bar, for example, was almost a third fat.

Meanwhile, six of the seven cereal bars targeted at children were high in saturated fat, the study found.

And Monster Puffs, a cereal bar marketed to children and described as "great for your lunchbox", contained 43.5% sugar - more than two teaspoons.


Which? compared the nutritional content of the bars using the manufacturers' information and applied traffic light labelling to see if the levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt were high, medium or low.

The Nakd Apple Pie was the only bar in the study that did not contain any added sugar, while the Alpen Light Apple and Sultana was the only one to have three green traffic lights for fat, saturated fat and salt.

Start Quote

People often choose cereal bars in the belief they're healthier than chocolate or biscuits, but our research shows this can be a myth”

End Quote Richard Lloyd Which?

Which? is calling for manufacturers to reduce sugar and fat in food products marketed to children and for tighter controls over the way they are promoted.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "People often choose cereal bars in the belief they're healthier than chocolate or biscuits, but our research shows this can be a myth."

A spokeswoman for Kellogg's, which makes the Nutri-Grain Elevenses bar and some of the other snacks tested, said: "We're confused as to why anyone would call a Nutri-Grain Elevenses snack a cereal bar.

"If you've eaten one you know it's not. It's a baked bar and looks and eats much more like a muffin or cake.

"We bake it like a cake and market it as a mid-morning snack.

"In fact, compared to other similar mid-morning snacks, it's one of the choices that has slightly less sugar than the norm."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    I find the tone of alot of these 'health' articles to be too dogmatic. I have worked with people suffering from eating disorders, and alot of their anxiety surrounding food stems from media scaremongering regarding sugars and fats. Where is the emphasis on moderation and leading a healthy lifestyle? As long as we have an awareness about what we eat, then these things are not a problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    If it's packaged, mass produced and sold in a supermarket, then the chances are that it is full of rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    When these products are advertised as "healthy", this is false advertising. False advertising lures the ignornat, including our children. The imputus for change will likely have to come by hitting the adds + labelling as FALSE ADVERTISING, & applying large fines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Every one is responsible for their own decisions on types of foods to eat. Eat the wrong food and face the consequences. If you eat to much fat chances are you will become fatter. Any processed food will contain high levels of fats and sugars - that's the way life is. What I object to is the manufacturers trying to make us think the food is healthy when it obviously isn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    Forget Cereal bars.

    Buy your own pack of Flax seeds, take a half-filled soup spoon of the seeds already triturated, mix it up with sugar-free natural yogurt...voila, done deal!! You will never need cereal bars anymore...

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Wow, slow news day.

    Secret lives of Witches, Ramadan fasting and now this?

    Cereal bars have always been bad for you. This isn't 'news'. Its not new. Has this only just occurred to one of your journalists in a moment of overwhelming writer's block?

    In a Tracker bar, what exactly do you think holds the nuts together? It's not yummy magic glue mixed by umpa-lumpas. Its that third fat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    You cannot trust anything that supermarkets offer. The food prices have risen by 2-5% depending which figures you look at but they don't take into account that the weights in almost everything you buy now have been reduced by a minimum of 5% to a whopping 25% clearly if you want clarity about fats and sugars you need to change the "Sneaky" Culture and dubious sales tactics of supermarkets first

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    @272 Alex

    Yes one pack of raisins a day is fine, why would you go & eat five packs?!
    Some common sence is required
    Providing the nutritional information for one slice of cheese allows you to make the decision about how many slices to eat!

    What exactly do you need? Someone to feed it to you as well?

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Don't tax sugar and saturated fat, that just means healthy people can't afford a treat when they want one.
    Try lowering the price of healthy food, and make it more affordable, meaning you are more inclined to choose it due to price, but can still afford a treat every so often.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.


    Busy mothers with small children don't have time to check labels everytime they go shopping and supermarkets deliberately exploit this. Sweets near counters is one example, sugar/salt laden cr@p at child height on the shelves is another.

    A simpler system to recognize what food is good v bad should have been introduced decades ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.


    Of course they are healthy for the shareholders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Until we can get the food processors and large retailers, to stop loading our food with un-necessary fat,sugar and salt, we will never have a healthy nation or get rid of obesity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    @ 65. Bobby

    Exactly. Leave the food and food manufacturers well alone. They are doing what they are good at and that is making money!

    Its people who need to get educated that if you eat too much saturated fat and too much sugar and salt, then you are going to suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Obesity (craving fat) is caused by a hormone inbalance as seen on BBC Horizon "The Truth About Fat". None of the fat haters watched it, clearly. It is caused by stress and it can happen to anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    The Tesco Traffic lights are just plain scary take their packet of raisins which they proudly say is one a day but if you were to have 5 of them you would have had more than double your daily sugar allowance and the sneaky things they do to hide fat content. Buy a packet of cheese and they give you the fat content of 1 slice marked in print that is so small you need a magnifying glass to read it

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    I dont know why people don't read the labels, it has a list of ingredients that tells you exactly what is in it.
    If you need further information you could google the individual ingredients and make your judgment from there.

    The colour coding system reminds me of something children would use

    Common sense is your friend, use your brain and THINK about what your eating

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    All processed and manufactured food is unhealthy. Food producers and food retailers are not in the business of providing nutritious foodstuffs, they are in the business of making money - this is the undoubted beauty (not) of capitalism.
    The Coop movement came into existence many years ago to provide good food at affordable prices (to working people). There is room for a born again Coop today

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    It seems most people still don't have a clue about food nutrition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    The BBC really does specialise in simplistic, sensationalist journalism these days.

    Every week one item of food, usually produced by the evil Americans, is found to be "unhealthy", based on the assumption that we are all overweight, take no exercise and that the balance of our diet exactly matches the balance of nutrition in that particular item.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    If only thay had all this on the packaging... oh wait, they do! This is only a 'myth' for those to lazy to read what they are easting.


Page 13 of 27


More Health stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.