A survey of global breakfast cereals shows wide differences in the levels of sodium and sugar found in the same cereals around the world, the World Action on Salt and Health reports.
For example, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks had 55.6 grams of sugar per 100 grams in the United States, but the same product contained only 43 grams in several other countries. And, Kellogg’s All Bran Flakes had 724 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams compared to 280 mg per 100 grams in some other countries.
The survey looked at 19 products by Kellogg’s and Nestlé/General Mills from 29 countries for comparison and found that sugar content ranged from 8 grams to 57 grams per 100 grams, while the sodium content ranged from 32 mg to 772 mg per 100 grams.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults should restrict their consumption of sodium to 2,000 mg a day and added sugars to 50 grams or 12 teaspoons a day.
All of the American cereals were higher in sodium than the same cereals in some other countries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently working on voluntary guidance for the food industry to reduce sodium in processed and restaurant foods in this country.
See the chart below for information on how U.S. cereals compare in their sugar and sodium content to some other countries.
The colors in the chart refer to low, medium, and high sugar and sodium content, colors used in a United Kingdom labeling system.
“This survey makes clear the need for action by the FDA,” said Jim O’Hara, director of Health Promotion Policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “The FDA’s short-term sodium targets should be finalized before the end of the Obama Administration so that the industry has clear goals and so that tens of thousands of Americans have their risk of heart attack and stroke reduced.”
The FDA should start a similar program to reduce sugar consumption, O’Hara said.
Researchers estimate that reducing current sodium intake in the U.S. by 1,200 mg a day would prevent 60,000 to 120,000 cases of coronary heart disease and 32,000 to 60,000 cases of stroke a year. It also would save an estimated $10 billion to $24 billion in health-care costs and 44,000 to 92,000 lives annually.