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Are cereal bars as healthy as you expect?

Which? research shows high levels of sugar and fat

Cereal bars are often promoted as a healthy snack or breakfast, and many people choose them over a chocolate bar as they think they’re healthier. 

But Which?’s expert analysis of 30 cereal bars from the best-selling brands shows that few deserve this healthy image.

Cereal bars analysed

All but one of the bars we looked at were high in sugar, with 16 containing more than 30% sugar. While some of the sugar comes from fruit, which provides extra nutritional benefit, only the Nakd Apple Pie doesn’t contain any added sugar. 

Manufacturers don’t make it easy for you to see how much sugar is added as they use several different guises of it in the same bar. Unless you know what to look for at a glance, the ingredients can appear much healthier than they are.

In total, our researchers found 18 different forms of sugar in the bars. 

Fat in cereal bars

Ten of the 30 bars are high in saturated fat and six of these are marketed to children.

The Tracker Roasted Nut is high in fat – although some of this is from peanuts and hazelnuts, the bar also contains vegetable fat. 

Which? says

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd says: ‘People often choose cereal bars in the belief they’re healthier than chocolate or biscuits, but our research shows this can be a myth. 

‘Manufacturers need to be 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 a traffic light colour-coding system so people can see easily what they’re eating and giving to their children.’

More on this…

  • Are you shocked by the levels of sugar and fat in your cereal bar? Join our conversation on cereal bars
  • Check how your breakfast cereal compares nutritionally to other market leaders, see our analysis of breakfast cereals
  • Read the full article from the September issue of Which?
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