October 8/Drug Week -- A new nutrition Ratings report from Consumer Reports finds that some breakfast cereals marketed heavily to children are more than 50% sugar by weight, and only four of the 27 cereals studied rated "Very Good."

Consumer Reports found two cereals, Post Golden Crisp and Kellogg's Honey Smacks, that are more than 50% sugar and nine which are at least 40% sugar. Some 23 of the top 27 cereals marketed to children rated only "Good" or "Fair" for nutrition. Consumer Reports notes there is at least as much sugar in a serving of Kellogg's Honey Smacks and 10 other rated cereals as there is in a glazed doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts, which contains 12g.

The article, which appears in the November issue of Consumer Reports, also notes that several cereals sold in the U.S. have more sugar and sodium than the same brands sold overseas.

Cheerios (General Mills) topped Consumer Reports' ratings with 3g of dietary fiber per serving and only 1g of sugar, the two categories that Consumer Reports weighed as most important. Kix and Honey Nut Cheerios (both General Mills) and Life (Quaker Oats) also were relatively lower in sugars and had higher dietary fiber. All four of these cereals rated "Very Good."

In addition to high sugar content, the magazine notes that sodium is also an issue. For example, Kellogg's Rice Krispies has only 4g of sugar per serving but rated only "Fair," largely because it is higher in sodium and has 0gs of sugar, and 1g of dietary fiber per serving; and Kellogg's Corn Pops, with 12g of sugar and 0g of dietary fiber per serving.

"If you're shopping for a kids' cereal, try one of the "Very Good" cereals in our ratings," says Gayle Williams, deputy editor, Consumer Reports Health. "Be sure to read the product labels, and choose cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar and sodium. Served with milk and fruit, these cereals can be part of a well-balanced, nutritious breakfast."

Consumer Reports' Ratings are based on product label information concerning nutrition and recommended serving size, though the report points out that many children pour more than the portion size suggested by the manufacturer. An outside lab confirmed the accuracy of label data, except for the newly reformulated Kellogg's cereals, which Consumer Reports did not have tested. Consumer Reports studied how 91 youngsters, aged 6-16, poured their cereal and found that, on average, they served themselves about 50-65% more than the suggested serving size for three of the four tested cereals. For example, if kids ate the entire average amount of Frosted Flakes that they poured for themselves, they would get about 18g of sugar per serving -- as opposed to the 11g per serving listed on the cereal box.

From the October 13, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash