Your every morning healthy breakfast cereal may not be so healthy after all if the findings of a global survey are anything to go by.
Levels of salt and sugar in the breakfast cereals sold around the world are much higher than the WHO recommendation, according to a recent survey.
Recently, the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), a global group with a mission to improve the health of populations by achieving a gradual reduction in salt intake, conducted a survey across 29 countries.
The survey on global breakfast cereal brands reveals wide differences in the levels of salt and sugar found in the same breakfast cereals sold around the world.
Surprisingly the salt and sugar level found in these breakfast cereals is much higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended daily sugar and salt intake for an adult individual.
A total of 19 ready to eat breakfast cereal products, manufactured by two global giants from 29 different countries were used in the global survey which found that the sugar content ranged from 57g to 8g per 100g, a difference of 86 per cent, while salt content ranged from 1.93g to 0.08g per 100g, a difference of 96 per cent across all cereals.
Currently, the WHO recommends that adults should restrict their salt content to 5g a day and free sugars intake to 25g a day.
The survey further revealed that 58 per cent of cereals surveyed contained high levels of sugar.
At least 54 per cent of the cereals surveyed contained two teaspoons or more of sugar per suggested serving.
The salt and sugar content of breakfast cereals varies hugely between countries.
For instance, a popular brand of cornflakes sold in India which contained the highest level of salt (1.93g/100g) had 46 per cent more salt than the same product in Argentina and Brazil (1.04g/100g).
Now Delhi-based NGO Consumer Voice which also participated in the survey from India is taking up the issue with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare besides the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Speaking to The Statesman, Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Consumer Voice, said, “The idea is to bring forth the unhealthy aspects of the so called healthy breakfast cereals”.
“As more and more people are shifting towards these newer options, it is pertinent for them to know what they are eating and how it is going to affect them. As a consumer, it is their right. We are trying to bring down the salt and sugar levels in these packaged cereals with government’s help and intervention,” Sanyal said.
Interestingly, in October this year, the FSSAI proposed to look at setting standards for fortification of packaged food products such as biscuits and breakfast cereals, with essential micro-nutrients. But as on date, there is no prescribed limit of salt and sugar which is being followed in case of ready to eat cereals.
Also, speaking to The Statesman, Dr Sanjay Bhadada, additional professor at the department of endocrinology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, said: “The high salt and sugar content in the breakfast cereals make these an unhealthy option as they leads to a higher glyceimic load (above 20) which indicates rise in blood glucose level. One should rather switch to the Indian breakfast options like chila, iddi, poha,chapattietc which are not only healthier options but are complete meals packed with nutrients.”