bowl of healthy oats with berries and yoghurt on top

This week on Friday Night Feast, Jamie and Jimmy take a closer look at breakfast cereals and uncover the worrying effects they’re having on our children. Laura Matthews, Jamie’s Head of Nutrition, explains how excess sugar is damaging our health, and why it’s particularly bad for kids.

Cereal can be one of the biggest sources of sugar in a child’s diet. Although many cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they are also often full of added refined sugar. As Jamie and Jimmy discovered on Friday Night Feast, some breakfast cereals contain as much as 35g of sugars per 100g. That makes them over one third sugar!

Children aged seven to 10 years old should have no more than 24g of free sugar a day, which is equivalent to six sugar cubes. That means that children who start the day with a bowl of sugary cereal will have more than half their recommended daily intake of sugar before they’ve started the day.

In England, the government has challenged food companies to reduce the amount of sugar in children’s food, including breakfast cereal, by 20 per cent by 2020.

This sugar reduction is voluntary and most of the supermarkets have said they are working towards the 20 per cent sugar reduction targets in their own-brand cereals.

By gradually reducing the sugar content over time, consumers are eating a healthier product without changing their buying habits.

Make a healthier choice

Next time you’re in the supermarket, take a look at the front-of-pack traffic-light label on your breakfast cereal. Try to aim for mostly green and amber to make a healthier choice.

And the best way to know what’s in your cereal is to make your own. You can control the type and amount of sugar that goes in. Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as fresh and dried fruit, vegetables and milk, but these all provide vitamins, minerals and/or fibre, too.

This easy recipe for Jamie’s oaty fruit cereal is a great place to start – you can get the kids involved in weighing out and stirring the ingredients. If you have a little more time, try one of these balanced recipes for Jamie’s baked eggs in popped beans or leftover squash pancakes.

Watch this week’s Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast to see Jamie and Jimmy’s food fight on breakfast cereal. Catch the show every Friday at 8pm on Channel 4.

About the author

Laura Matthews

Laura is head of nutrition at Jamie Oliver. Her passion for food comes from having cooking lessons at a local college from the age of 10, and the nutrition side from a fascination for how the right foods can fuel the body.

Laura Matthews