Fruit loops

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Most parents probably wouldn't knowingly serve their child a Twinkie for breakfast.

Unfortunately, an alarming amount of sweetened breakfast cereals, popular with the younger set, are just as unhealthy as the iconic creme-filled snack cake and many other packaged desserts.

The Environmental Working Group analyzed the nutrition labels of 84 popular children' cereals and found that more half of the brands they reviewed deliver more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Three cereals — Kellogg's Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp, and General Mills Wheaties Fuel—contain more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie.

A shocking 75% of cereals did not meet the voluntary nutritional guidelines proposed by the International Working Group, a federal advisory board responsible for foods marketed to children.

The IWG recommends that children's cereal have no more than 26% sugar by weight. Most of the breakfast cereals that made EWG's worst list exceed the government's proposed limit by nearly double.

Take a look at the list below:

1. Kellogg's Honey Smacks—55% sugar
2. Post Golden Crisp—51.9% sugar
3. Kellogg's Froot Loops Marshmallow—48.3% sugar
4. Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch's OOPS! All Berries—46.9% sugar
5. Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch Original—44.4% sugar
6. Quaker Oats Oh!s—44.4% sugar
7. Kellogg's Smorz—43.3% sugar
8. Kellogg's Apple Jacks —42.9% sugar
9. Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries—42.3% sugar
10. Kellogg's Froot Loops Original—41.4% sugar

So what's the issue? Child obesity rates are climbing as a result of eating foods high in sugar. Meanwhile, manufacturers of sugary cereals spend upwards of $20 million a year in advertising targeting the youth market.

"Somehow, reading a nutrition label and seeing that Honey Smacks has 20 grams (that's nearly five teaspoons) of sugar per serving does not have the same impact as slapping a label on the box that reads, "Warning: Equivalent to Eating a Twinkie," says Tom Laskawy of Grist.

General Mills recently argued that that kids won't like their cereal if they reduce the sugar content anymore than they already have over the last few years. Maybe that's a good thing.