Not Exactly Breakfast of Champions

By now most of us know that most breakfast cereals are not very good for us. The typical cereal is loaded with sugar and has little nutritional value. It’s mostly empty calories. People are getting wise to this and cereal consumption is down, so the folks at General Mills decided that if the world wanted a more nutritious breakfast they would make a more nutritious version of Cheerios.

Mmm, lentil-flavored!

Mmm, lentil-flavored!

That new, more nutritious cereal is Cheerios Protein, which the company boasts offers 11 grams of protein with milk. Let us not dwell, at least on this occasion, on our recognition that regular Cheerios, with milk, offers seven grams of protein and that new Cheerios Protein therefore isn’t very, well, proteiny.

So how did Cheerios do it?

Whole grain oats and lentils.

Really sets those salivary glands to working, doesn’t it?

Apparently that was the problem: better for you but, like most foods that are good for us, not very good.

Why not?  Well, those lentils probably have a lot to do with it.

So what did the Cheerios people do?

They added more sugar.

How much more sugar?

Sooooo glad you asked.

Good but not good for you.

Good but not good for you.

17 times more.

No, that is not a misprint: 17 times as much sugar as regular Cheerios.

A one-and-one quarter cup serving of regular Cheerios has one gram of sugar.

The same serving of Protein Cheerios? 17 grams of sugar.

So maybe the folks at General Mills need to tell us exactly how their new, healthier cereal is healthier when it has 17 times as much sugar and only 57 percent more protein.

It’s kind of like the manufacturer of a chocolate bar reducing the bar’s size from 2.0 to 1.5 ounces and putting a “25 percent fewer calories” announcement on the label.

It’s not necessarily dishonest but it certainly is sleazy and misleading.

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