According to the studies, only one of the 30 cereal bars they analysed was low in sugar, with others containing high levels of sugar and more than half containing over 30% sugar.
Nutri-Grain Elevenses contained nearly four teaspoons of sugar, which is more than in a small can of cola and 20% of the recommended daily allowance.
Some of the other snacks were high in fat and saturated fat. The Tracker Roasted Nut bar was almost a third fat while six of the seven cereal bars targeted at children were high in saturated fat. Monster Puffs, children’s favourite cereal bar, which was described as ‘great for your lunchbox’, contained 43.5% sugar, which is more than two teaspoons.
After comparing the nutritional content of the bars using manufacturers’ information with traffic light labelling, ‘Which?’ was able to see if the levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt were low, high or medium.
Out of all the bars, The Nakd Apple was the only bar that didn’t contain any added sugar and the Alpen Light Apple and Sultana was the only one to have three green traffic lights for fat, saturated fat and salt.
‘Which?’ is calling for reduced sugar and fat in foods marketed to children and tighter controls over their promotion.
According to executive director Richard Lloyd of ‘Which’, “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 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.”