The packaging of a Froot Loops box is brightly coloured and the cartoon animals are all smiling. The marketing is designed for kids to want it, and it’s effective. Since its start in 1963, Kellogg’s Froot Loops has become one of the oldest, and most popular cereal products in North America. But what exactly are we feeding our children when they dive into a bowl of Kellogg’s Froot Loops?
The answer is given away in the title if we convert the letter O to mean the number 0: translation: There is no fruit only and very little nutritional value. Instead, we are feeding our precious children inflammation, mood swings, hyperactivity, obesity, and poor learning. Froot Loops has an ingredient cocktail that is full of things we know to be problematic for us to eat, and this has huge impact on the growing minds and bodies of our children. Let’s take a look at exactly what’s in a bowl of Froot Loops.
Ingredient #1: Sugar
Maybe you’ve heard that breakfast cereals can contain a large portion of a child’s daily allowable sugar intake, and that it should be “part of a balanced breakfast.” But the fact that sugar is the #1 ingredient in this cereal means it has no place as part of any breakfast- it should be a dessert! In 1 cup of Froot Loops there is 12g of refined sugar. Take note that the average bowl would hold about 1.5 servings, so if your kids eat an average-size bowl of this cereal, they are getting a whopping 18g of refined sugar in the morning. That’s about the amount of sugar in half a can of Coke (19.5g), or 5 ½ Oreo cookies (19g) (USDA food composition database, 2016). Sugar intake has direct linkage with obesity rates in children and adults, increasing rates of hyperactivity and ADHD and compromises immunity. If your child is sick all the time, you might want to consider a healthier start to their day like steel cut oats and a hard boiled egg. For more information on sugar, please read 14 Simple tips to quit sugar cravings and the Sugar Roller Coaster.
Ingredient: #2 Whole-grain corn flour, and #3 Wheat Flour
While it might sound good that at least the corn is “whole-grain” (ie it contains every part of the seed kernel, not just the starchy tasty part like in white wheat flour), these 2 ingredients will, without a doubt, be genetically modified (GMO). Although the scientific evidence has yet to show clear long-term harmful effects of eating GMO crops, this is an ingredient the American Academy of Environmental Medicine is urging consumers to avoid, citing animal studies that show organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility (Smith, 2009). Not only that, but GMOs are incredibly problematic for the environment and the lives of farmers all over the world.
Ingredient #7 Hydrogenated Coconut and Vegetable Oil
Anywhere there is oil that is hydrogenated, there are trans fats. Hydrogenation is a process that makes fats more stable at room temperature, but unfortunately it also makes them much more dangerous for our bodies. Artificial trans fats like those in hydrogenated oils have been clearly linked with a higher incidence of heart disease and inflammation, and may also increase risk for type II diabetes (Leech, 2017).
Ingredient #9 “Colour”
When something isn’t explicitly called natural colour, it means it is artificial. It is interesting to note that the laws in the UK and Australia state that the colours used in Froot Loops must all be natural. In North America, however, the colours have been artificial since 1963, although Kellogg has a goal to eliminate artificial colours by 2018 in the United States. What does that mean for your kids? Artificial colours have been shown to increase ADHD symptoms in children (Arnold, 2012) as well as triggering other immune reactivity (Vojdani, 2015).
Ingredient #10 “BHT”
BHT stands for butylated hydroxyanisole, and it is a preservative to avoid. The FDA has approved it as being safe for human consumption, though the National Toxicology Program has concluded that BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” (Berkeley Wellness, 2011). The jury may be out, but it is advised by many research boards to limit consumption to very low levels.
Unpacking the Ingredients of Froot Loops
After unpacking the ingredients of Froot Loops like this, we can see how eating a bowl of sugary cereal every morning can affect our bodies and those of our children in the long run. Although we are urged to make Froot Loops “part of a balanced breakfast,” it really should not be considered a breakfast food at all. Instead, we recommend avoiding the boxed processed sugary cereals and aim for unprocessed, simple breakfasts with wholesome ingredients. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot more work either. For example, Nature’s Path Heritage O’s cereal has 3g sugar/3/4 c and Cheerios have 1g sugar/cup. You can top these with fresh organic fruit, organic yogurt or a little almond butter to get good fats and probiotics along with their breakfast. Pairing this along with fiber from fruit and protein from a boiled egg you have a nutritionally rounded breakfast that will keep your kids fuller, happier and healthier. And, this might just make their teacher happier at school if your child is able to focus better during the day!
- Arnold, L. E., Lofthouse, N., & Hurt, E. (2012). Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: conclusions to dye for. Neurotherapeutics, 9(3), 599-609. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/
- Berkeley Wellness, 2011. Two preservatives to avoid.
- Leech, Joe. Retreived 2017 from Authority Nutirition, Why are Trans Fats Bad for You? The Disturbing Truth.https://authoritynutrition.com/why-trans-fats-are-bad/
- USDA food composition database, 2016, https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/
- Smith, J. M. (2009). Institute for Responsible Technology. Institute for Responsible Technology. http://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/
- Vojdani, C. (2015). Immune reactivity to food coloring. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 21, 52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25599186
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Dr. Christina Bjorndal, ND is considered an authority in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and eating disorders using a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual approach. Having overcome many mental health challenges, Dr. Chris is a gifted speaker and writer and has shared her wellness philosophy with audiences from platforms such as the Jenny McCarthy show, the International Bipolar Foundation, and many health summits and docuseries. She is recognized as a top ND to follow by two independent organizations. Her books “Beyond the Label” and The Essential Diet: Eating for Mental Health, along with her Moving Beyond 10 week course are comprehensive guides to naturopathic mental health.