(Reuters)- A bowl of some popular brands of breakfast cereal contains more sugar than three chocolate chip cookies, according to a study released on Wednesday.
A study from the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based health information non-profit, found that one cup of any of 44 children's breakfast cereals has more sugar than three "Chips Ahoy!" cookies.
The worst cereal for sugar is Kellogg's Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, according to EWG's analysis. A one cup serving of Honey Smacks contains more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, the report found.
"Kids should not be eating sugar for breakfast," said New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle, quoted in the EWG news release. "They should be eating real food."
Kellogg, which had five cereals in EWG's top 10 list for sugar, disputed the report. The company said a recommended serving of Honey Smacks is 3/4 of a cup, and that it is not marketed to children.
"Kellogg has reduced the sugar across our U.S. kids' cereal by approximately 16 percent," said Lisa Sutherland, vice president of nutrition at Kellogg North America.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus' Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative said that the nutrition composition of cereals advertised to children under 12 has improved significantly.
CFBAI director Elaine D. Kolish said in a statement that before the CFBAI was launched in 2006, some cereals advertised to children had 15-16 grams of sugar per serving. Now, none of the cereals advertised to children have more than 12 grams, Kolish said.
The Environmental Working Group found that only one in four children's cereals met voluntary guidelines set by the federal Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, which is no more than 26 percent added sugar by weight.
Besides Kellogg's Honey Smacks, the other cereals in the EWG list of worst 10 cereals, based on percent sugar by weight, are: Post Golden Crisp; Kellogg's Froot Loops Marshmallow; Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch's OOPS! All Berries; followed by Cap'n Crunch Original; Quaker Oats Oh!s; Kellogg's Smorz; Kellogg's Apple Jacks; Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries; Kellogg's Froot Loops Original.
(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)