London: The image of cereal bars as a healthy snack is a myth, as some of them contain the equivalent of almost four teaspoons of sugar and high levels of fat, researchers have claimed.
All but one of the 30 leading bars are high in sugar with 16 containing more than 30 percent.
The research comes after figures revealed how sales of traditional breakfast cereals have plummeted as people turn to snacks which can be eaten on the go or as part of an office “deskfast.”
The research by which found the Kellogg`s Nutri-Grain Elevenses Raisin Bake bar contained nearly four teaspoons of sugar (18g), which is more than that found in a small 150ml can of cola (15.9g) and around 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance, the Daily Mail reported.
However, it has less sugar in it than richer breakfast options, for example a Sainsbury`s blueberry muffin which contains 22.7g and a serving of Starbucks luxury fruit bread which contains 39g.
The Tracker Roasted Nut bar was found to be almost a third fat and contained some hydrogenated fat which is a particular risk in terms of increasing cholesterol in the blood.
Monster Puffs, a cereal bar aimed at children and described as “great for your lunchbox,” contained 43.5 per cent sugar.
In all, six out of seven cereal bars aimed at children were high in saturated fat.
Which compared the nutritional content of the bars using the manufacturers` information and applied traffic light labelling standards to see if the levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt were high, medium or low.
The Nakd Apple Pie was the only bar in the study that did not contain any added sugar, while the Alpen Light Apple and Sultana bar was the only one to have three green traffic lights for fat, saturated fat and salt.
The Weetabix Oaty Strawberry Crusher bar was the healthiest choice for children, with a low salt content and medium levels of fat and saturated fat.
“People often choose cereal bars in the belief they`re healthier than chocolate or biscuits but our research shows this can be a myth,” Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said.
“Manufacturers need to be much clearer about how much sugar, fat and calories are loaded into each bar so people can make an informed choice.
“We want all foods to have the traffic light colour coding system so people can see easily what they`re eating and giving to their children,” he added.